Southern Gas Corridor plays major role in Europe's energy security
By Ayya Lmahamad
Nowadays, Azerbaijan is viewed as one of the most reliable suppliers of energy resources in Europe. Against the background of the recent gas crises, it is not surprising that Azerbaijan is eyed as a safe source of gas.
The current geopolitical situation in the world has shown that Europe cannot be completely dependent on a single gas supplier. In this regard, it is no coincidence that Europe lists Azerbaijan among the countries from where it is potentially possible to increase supplies if needed.
Some European countries have already expressed interest in doubling gas supplies from Azerbaijan via the Southern Gas Corridor.
Speaking at the international forum “South Caucasus: Development and Cooperation” in Shusha, faculty member of the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, international energy and foreign policy specialist Brenda Shaffer said that the Southern Gas Corridor plays a major role in Europe’s energy security.
"We are entering a very difficult economic period. Energy security projects play a particularly important role during the current economic crisis, and the Southern Gas Corridor is one of those projects," she said.
Moreover, the German Ambassador to Azerbaijan Wolfgang Manig believes that German companies can contribute to the expansion of the capacity of the Southern Gas Corridor.
"At present, the German Energy Ministry is actively seeking alternative sources of energy imports. Germany has a wish to establish gas supplies through the Southern Gas Corridor," he said.
The Southern Gas Corridor also brings EU-Azerbaijan relations even closer together and enhances Azerbaijan’s image as a reliable gas supplier in the eyes of Europe. The SGC already plays an important role in ensuring Europe’s energy security. The corridor ensures the diversification of gas supplies to Europe and also allows Europe to receive cheaper gas.
In this regard, EU Ambassador to Azerbaijan Peter Michalko stated that the energy cooperation between the European Union and Azerbaijan has the potential for further expansion. He noted that the Southern Gas Corridor is one of the largest projects between the EU and Azerbaijan and is an example of the successful development of partnership in this sector.
"The energy sector is one of the important areas of cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan, along with successfully developing trade relations," he said.
Moreover, Greek Deputy Minister for Economic Diplomacy and Openness Kostas Fragogiannis in an interview with the Trend news agency stated that the volumes of gas deliveries through TAP play a significant role in providing Europe with a new, reliable, and affordable source of energy while facilitating the transition to clean energy. Noting that Greece is ready to explore all available alternatives to ensure its energy security, he highlighted that the country is an important partner in TAP.
“There is great potential in this area, and we expect that during 2022 the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB) will be commissioned, which will bring the expected results in energy markets and allow to use the great potential of both countries. The possible expansion of the Southern Gas Corridor capacity will further increase the energy security of Greece and the rest of Europe,” he said.
While talking about the increase in gas supplies from Azerbaijan, first, it is important to achieve the export potential that Azerbaijan has, that is, to increase exports to 20 billion cubic meters per year. In this regard, according to the forecast of the Azerbaijani government for oil and gas production in the country until 2026, about 48 billion cubic meters of gas will be produced in 2023, 49 billion cubic meters in 2024, and about 50 billion cubic meters in 2025.
To recall, with the completion of the TAP (Trans-Adriatic Pipeline) construction on December 31, 2020, Azerbaijan began commercial gas supplies to Europe via the Southern Gas Corridor. The European Commission's Southern Gas Corridor initiative aims to build a natural gas supply route from the Caspian and Middle Eastern regions to Europe. The route from Azerbaijan to Europe consists of the South Caucasus Pipeline, the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), and TAP.
Last year, TAP transported 8.1 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe. By late 2022, Azerbaijan plans to increase gas supplies to Europe to 9.1 billion cubic meters, and in 2023, the volume of gas supplies is expected to reach 11 billion cubic meters.
Additionally, today, the final work on the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB), which will transport natural gas from Azerbaijan to Bulgaria, is in full swing. Gas was supposed to start flowing via IGB back in 2020, but the delay of implementing the project has been delayed for a variety of reasons.
Today the prospects for expansion of the Southern Gas Corridor are assessed positively. Taking into account Azerbaijan’s proven gas potential, it is possible to say that the capacity of the Southern Gas Corridor will be increased and Azerbaijan will increase its gas exports to Europe.
Ayya Lmahamad is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @AyyaLmahamad
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