Azerbaijan ‘treats TAP and Nabucco West equally’

Azerbaijan is neutral and treats both Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) and Nabucco West gas pipeline projects equally, Azerbaijan's Ambassador to Albania with residence in Athens, Rahman Mustafayev, said in an interview with Tirana Times newspaper.

"We are now in the process of more close cooperation with the companies of two selected pipeline options and also with the governments of transit countries related to these two projects," Mustafayev said in the interview, posted on the website of the Azerbaijani embassy in Greece.

Currently the consortium developing Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz gas field considers both Nabucco West and TAP as options to deliver gas to Europe.

Mustafayev said for all members of the Shah Deniz consortium and for the Azerbaijani government it is of vital importance to have two healthy and competitive options.

He noted that the recent visit of BP and SOCAR officials to Tirana in July and the meetings with Albania's senior officials had a clear message - Azerbaijan supports both TAP and Nabucco West. "The country will cooperate closely with both options to see more benefits from them and to continue the development of these projects into worthy competitors to each other."

In February the Shah Deniz consortium made TAP a priority route for exporting Azerbaijani gas to Italy. Later, in June, the consortium chose Nabucco West project as the single pipeline option for the potential export of Shah Deniz Stage 2 gas to Central Europe. The final decision on a pipeline route will be made in 2013.

TAP is designed to transport gas from the Caspian region via Greece and Albania and across the Adriatic Sea to Italy and further into Western Europe. TAP's initial pipeline capacity will be 10 billion cubic meters per year, expandable to 20 billion cubic meters. TAP's shareholders are EGL of Switzerland (42.5 percent), Norway's Statoil (42.5 percent) and E.ON Ruhrgas of Germany (15 percent).

Nabucco West is a short-cut version of Nabucco project, which envisages construction of a pipeline from the Turkish-Bulgarian border to Austria. The project's shareholders are Bulgarian Energy Holding, Romanian Transgaz, Turkish Botas, Austrian OMV, German RWE and Hungary's FGSZ.

Regarding Albanian-Azerbaijani relations, Mustafayev said Albania is a new, but very important partner for the South Caucasus republic. "It is not only because of gas pipeline and energy diplomacy revolving around it, but also because of the fact that the Balkan region is emerging to be one of the prior directions for our foreign policy and investment activities," he said.

According to Mustafayev, investment cooperation between the two countries could cover not only oil and gas sectors, but also non-oil sectors of the economy, since development of the non-oil sector is the highest priority of the Azerbaijani government.