Southern Gas Corridor requires diversification of gas suppliers

Southern Gas Corridor requires diversification of gas suppliers

Nury AMANOV

The Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) project that envisages the transportation of natural gas from the Caspian region to Turkey and Europe requires diversification of gas suppliers. It is stated in the draft final joint declaration of the Advisory Council of the Southern Gas Corridor, the fifth meeting of which to be held in Baku on February 20.

The draft declaration was approved last month by the EU Energy Working Group and was submitted for final approval to the Permanent Representatives of 28 countries. “We welcome the interest of potential additional new suppliers of natural gas to use the Southern Gas Corridor to further diversify natural gas supplies to Europe and to other countries; and encourage discussions to ship additional gas supplies to Europe,” reads the declaration.

The first gas of the SGC from Azerbaijan to Southern Europe, in particular, to Italy, expected to be supplied by 2020. However, Europeans want to diversify suppliers, that is, they want more suppliers than they have now. It is understandable, as they want to be assured against any force major, especially in such a strategically important area as gas supply. Therefore, the European Union promotes projects to enable delivery of natural gas to its market from sources other than Azerbaijan.

Europe does not lack in natural gas and has enough volume of gas to consume. At the same time, the European Union wants to be able to use other sources of gas, in case the supplier, for any reason, is unable to supply gas, or the volume of supply will be insufficient. Someone would say that European desire seems kind of extra, but in the opinion of Brussels it is just right position. Therefore, despite assurances from the Azerbaijani side, that the country has as much gas as it has oil, the European Union continues to search for new sources of gas, which could be delivered via the SGC.

The European Union is interested in diversifying its gas supply, and Brussels believes that the Central Asian countries have the best potentials in this regard. In terms of both natural gas reserves and its geographical location, Turkmenistan is considered to become an important gas exporter to Europe. Some sources say that to connect to the SGC, it is necessary to lay a 300-kilometer gas pipeline under the Caspian Sea. This, not yet existing gas pipeline, has already know as Trans-Caspian pipeline. Taking into consideration the modern possibilities of building pipelines along the seabed, it not problem to lay a 300-kilometers pipeline. The point is that someone does not support the desire of Europeans to receive Turkmen gas through the Caspian Sea. it is quite natural that the market rules to be considered also. Well, time will show.

According to preliminary information, Gunther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, will represent EU in the 5th Meeting of the Advisory Council of the Southern Gas Corridor. He will replace the Vice President of the European Commission, Maros Šefčović, responsible for the Energy Union, who left office on February 1 to run to become the next president of Slovakia.

It is envisaged that the Joint Declaration will be endorsed by representatives of the Italian Republic, the Hellenic Republic, the Republic of Albania, the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Bulgaria, Georgia, the Republic of Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, as well as representatives of the new countries – San-Marino, the Republic of Croatia, Montenegro, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Serbia, Hungary and Turkmenistan.