By Nigar Orujova
The reality of the Southern Gas Corridor is encouraging a rival project known as Nabucco West to join the race for delivery of gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe.
The Nabucco gas project was one of the two potential routes for the transportation of Azerbaijani gas from the Shah Deniz field to Europe. The group later failed to win the required vote to bring Azerbaijani gas to Eastern Europe, opening the way for the Trans Adriatic Pipeline project.
Bulgaria pins great hope on Nabucco West, hoping to benefit from increasingly power-hungry European markets.
European gas security was high on agenda during President Ilham Aliyev's talks with Bulgaria's senior leadership in Sofia on March 4.
"Azerbaijan will continue to play its role in Europe's energy security," President Aliyev said.
Bulgaria views Azerbaijan as a key partner in Southeast Europe’s efforts to diversify energy supplies and ensure energy security.
Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev said that an agreement with Azerbaijan for the supply of 1 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually lays the foundation to the energy cooperation between Bulgaria and Azerbaijan and is a prerequisite for the effective energy diversification of all countries in the region.
"Bulgaria stands ready to extend the scope of agreements on Azerbaijani gas supplies," he added.
President Aliyev noted the importance of the Southern Gas Corridor, which includes implementation of the TANAP and TAP projects.
Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, in turn, urged the resumption of the Nabucco Pipeline and specifically its section between the TANAP and Nabucco West through Bulgaria, the Bulgarian press reported.
Nabucco’s modified version, Nabucco West enables Azerbaijan to broaden its presence on the European market as gas will enter Europe onwards running through Romania, Hungary and Austria.
The Southern Gas Corridor, one of the two main contenders for the European market along with the Russian project, is a chain of three gas pipelines, which will lead Azerbaijani gas to Greece via the territory of Georgia and Turkey.
The head of state stressed that Bulgaria, a member of the Southern Gas Corridor, will play an important role in this project as a transit country.
Prime Minister Borisov said the Southern Gas Corridor will give a powerful impetus to the development of the gas transportation system in Bulgaria.
"Participation in the Southern Gas Corridor and a possibility to buy shares gives a strategic advantage to the country," he stressed.
Azerbaijan and Bulgaria share common positions on a number of issues on the Black Sea cooperation, and are willing to advance relations in the fields of energy, IT, agriculture, pharmacy and tourism.
Azerbaijani companies have shown great interest in investing in Bulgaria, while Bulgarian companies can take part in transport infrastructure projects in Azerbaijan.
President Aliyev had one-on-one with his Bulgarian counterpart to discuss the strategic cooperation. The role of Azerbaijan in ensuring the energy security of Europe was noted at the meeting.
The presidential meetings ended up with signing of a Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership between Azerbaijan and Bulgaria between the heads of states.
A cooperation agreement was signed between the governments of Azerbaijan and Bulgaria in the field of electronic communication, information technologies and electronic governance, while the Azerbaijan Culture and Tourism Ministry and the Tourism Ministry of Bulgaria inked a protocol on expansion of cooperation.
Nigar Orujova is AzerNews’s staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @o_nigar
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