By Leman Mammadova
Romania and Azerbaijan enjoy excellent relations and a strong energy partnership. Romania particularly appreciates the active participation of Azerbaijan in the joint efforts to increase Europe's energy security, as well as the decisive role in the development of the Southern Gas Corridor.
The prospects of Romania's joining the Southern Gas Corridor were discussed.
The delegation of State Secretary of the Romanian Ministry of Energy Iulian-Robert Tudorache, representatives of the Romanian companies Transgaz and Romgaz, visited Azerbaijan’s Energy Ministry.
Tudorache said that he is participating in the ministerial meeting as part of the Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council for the second time, and mentioned his country’s support for this project.
The state secretary said that the Interconnector Bulgaria-Romania and the BRUA project will play an important role in the expansion of the Southern Gas Corridor to Central Asia in the future. He also said that Romania is interested in becoming part of the Southern Gas Corridor in the future through these projects.
Energy Minister of Azerbaijan Parviz Shahbazov highly appreciated this position of Romania and spoke about the prospects for expanding the Southern Gas Corridor by increasing its capacity in the future. The minister said that the project being implemented by Azerbaijan will allow diversifying the main export directions for producing and importing countries - for consumers in the future.
During the conversation, confidence was expressed that the strategic partnership relations between Azerbaijan and Romania will serve the interests of both countries in the energy sector.
At the meeting, the sides also discussed the possibility of cooperation of the Romanian energy companies with Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR.
Romgaz is the largest natural gas producer and the main supplier in Romania. The main shareholder is the Romanian State owing a 70 percent stake.
Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR has played an important role in the Romanian distribution market since 2011 through its subsidiary SOCAR Petroleum S.A.. The company has 40 filling stations in 18 Romanian regions.
ROMGAZ and TRANSGAZ, two of the most important Romanian companies in the natural gas sector, have long-standing cooperation relationships with SOCAR.
Recently, SOCAR has expressed its interest in cooperation with Romania’s ROMGAZ company in exploration and production of gas in the Black Sea, while Romanian company voiced its intention to cooperate with SOCAR both on the onshore area of Azerbaijan and on the offshore area in the Caspian Sea as well.
Romania and Azerbaijan also cooperate in the implementation of AGRI (Azerbaijan-Georgia-Romania Interconnector) energy project which is aimed at diversifying the energy supply sources of the European Union and involves the transport of Azerbaijani natural gas to Romania and Central Europe.
AGRI project envisages transportation of Azerbaijani gas to the Black Sea coast of Georgia via gas pipelines. Azerbaijani gas delivered to Georgia's Black Sea coast will be liquefied at a special terminal and following this, it will be delivered in tankers to a terminal at the Romanian port of Constanta.
AGRI highlights the important contribution that liquefied natural gas (LNG) could bring to the EU’s energy security in line with the objectives of the European Commission Strategy for LNG and natural gas deposits.
Furthermore, AGRI may be considered as additional supply route for the BRUA interconnector (which is expected to connect the natural gas transmission systems between Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria) currently under execution. The countries, engaged in the BRUA project may take over some of the gas volumes that could be available through the Southern Corridor's infrastructure.
Earlier, Romania’s Transgaz company and Azerbaijan’s SOCAR signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that envisages strengthening cooperation in the gas transportation, studying opportunities to use Romania’s potential in the gas transit and distribution at the expense of gas supplies from Azerbaijan, the Caspian region and other promising directions, jointly studying the possibilities of cooperation in the supply and trading of natural gas and LNG in the Romanian market on the basis of long-term contracts and spot trading as part of the AGRI project.
The MoU signed with the view of joint participation in projects of wide regional interest and in the context of linking the Southern Gas Corridor to the Vertical Corridor. Once the link between the Southern Gas Corridor and the Vertical Gas Corridor will be physically established, Caspian gas volumes could be delivered to the Romanian, to the neighboring and to the Central European gas markets.
Romania has been the first EU Member State to establish a Strategic Partnership with Azerbaijan in 2009 that provided both countries with a solid framework to develop the bilateral contacts and cooperation in various fields.
The Southern Gas Corridor is one of the priority projects for the EU and envisages the transportation of 10 billion cubic meters of Azerbaijani gas from the Caspian region through Georgia and Turkey to Europe.
Perhaps this is one of the most ambitious projects in the world of oil and gas industry, as well as a complex target that involves a large number of different stakeholders - including seven governments and 11 companies.
At the initial stage, the gas to be produced as part of the Stage 2 of development of Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz field is considered as the main source for the Southern Gas Corridor projects. Other sources can also connect to this project at a later stage.
Leman Mammadova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @leman_888
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