Azerbaijan to keep Europe warm

By Maksim Tsurkov

Azerbaijan seriously intends not only to supply gas to Europe, but also to “control” it there.

The matter rests in the fact that Azerbaijan will not only supply the European countries with a necessary resource, but also create a distribution network in some of them. This will significantly increase the level of gasification of Europe as a whole, even if the specific countries are the case.

The desire of some European countries to receive Azerbaijani gas and the possibilities of Azerbaijan to supply it together give grounds to speak about the great prospects of such cooperation.

Moreover, this cooperation involves mutual benefit.

In particular, the project on gasification of Albania, which is rapidly moving towards the beginning of its implementation at the moment, is a mutually beneficial venture.

Albania, for example, will receive Azerbaijani gas and the developed infrastructure in the area of its distribution. Remote cities of the country will gain access to the most important energy resource, which will have a positive impact on the standard of living of the population.

Azerbaijan’s national gas company, SOCAR, in its turn will receive some financial benefits. Also, one shouldn’t exclude the possibility that in case of successful realization of the project, other countries in the region may wish to engage in such cooperation.

Today's announcement by SOCAR also points on the seriousness of SOCAR’s intentions with announcment of a special tender be held to determine the auditor, who will prepare a feasibility study of the project and assess the current state of gas infrastructure in Albania.

If the project is proved to be expedient, its implementation will start in March 2016.
At the same time, the European Commission is also considering the deal on SOCAR’s purchasing two-thirds of the share in Greek DESFA natural gas transmission system operator. And, if the deal is completed successfully, SOCAR’s gas supply to Europe will not be limited to Albania.

Previously, Bulgaria, Hungary and the Czech Republic expressed the desire to directly purchase Azerbaijani gas. Given that the gas consumption in these countries is relatively low, the projected 10 billion cubic meters of gas that is planned to export to Europe through the Trans-Adriatic pipeline (TAP) would provide enough for these countries.

Moreover, the company has great and successful experience in gas distribution as it carries out this work in Azerbaijan and Georgia. It is expected that the number of new (potential) users covered by SOCAR’s program for gas supply to Georgia’s regions will reach 480,000 people by late 2015.

It should be noted that SOCAR doesn’t violate the main requirement of the EU’s Third Energy Package that envisages the separation of the business of producing and supplying of energy resources.

In the final stage, TAP consortium will be engaged in the gas supply to Europe. Seven companies are the shareholders of TAP: BP (20 percent), SOCAR (20 percent), Statoil (20 percent), Fluxys (16 percent), Total (10 percent), E.ON (nine percent) and Axpo (five percent).
All factors suggest that SOCAR will excel in the implementation of any and all planned projects.

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