Azerbaijan is ready to double the Gas to Europe
Between January and October 2022, Europeans bought more Azerbaijani gas than in the whole of 2021. About 9.3 billion cubic meters were exported to the member states of the European Union in ten months, writes the French newspaper "Les Echos".
"We expect to reach close to 12 billion cubic meters by the end of the year, mainly for Italy, Greece and Bulgaria," says Elnur Soltanov, Azerbaijan's deputy energy minister. "This would represent a 31% year-on-year increase."
In July, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visited Azerbaijan to persuade Baku to supply more gas to Europe to cope with a collapse in Russian exports following the invasion of Ukraine. Von der Leyen and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev agreed to double "within a few years" the volume of gas sold to Europe from Baku. The goal is to reach 20 billion cubic meters per year from 2027. However, this number is relatively small compared to the 155 billion cubic meters of Russian gas imported by the EU in 2021, before the war.
"Does Azerbaijan have enough reserves? The answer is yes. The Shah Deniz gas field in the Caspian Sea alone has 1,200 billion cubic meters of natural gas, and the potential of Azerbaijan as a whole is estimated at 2,600 billion cubic meters," says Soltanov.
Aliyev assured in early October that his administration had begun consultations with its partners to double the capacity of the Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline (TANAP) running through Turkey and the Trans-Adriatic Gas Pipeline (TAP) serving Greece, Turkey, Albania and Italy. The flow rate of TANAP, which today is limited to 16 billion cubic meters per year, will increase to 32 billion cubic meters when that of TAP reaches 20 billion cubic meters.
Near Baku, the Shah Deniz field supplies most of Azerbaijan's gas. It is managed by a consortium whose main shareholders are "British Petroleum" (about 30%) and entities related to the Azerbaijani state with up to 21%. The third largest investor is the Russian company "Lukoil" with 19.99% of the shares.
According to Soltanov, the participation of the Russian company does not seem to bother the European Commission, "Les Echos" notes.
The newspaper notes that in September there was a question in the French Senate to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna on the matter and it did not receive a clear answer.
However, Soltanov denies that Russian participation creates a problem:
"Russia is one of our very big neighbors... On the topic of energy, we have exchanges from time to time, as we always have. 30 years ago we were part of the same country. The infrastructures were interconnected to the highest degree. But it is wrong to say that significant quantities of Russian hydrocarbons are transiting through Azerbaijan."
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