Breakthrough in EU gas supply

Joint Declaration with Azerbaijan guarantees the Southern Gas Corridor

Euro­pe­an Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Jose Man­u­el Bar­ro­so and EU Ener­gy Com­mis­sion­er Guen­ther Oet­ting­er made a strong start in Baku, the first stop­o­ver in their Cas­pi­an tour.

Euro­pe­an Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Jose Man­u­el Bar­ro­so and EU Ener­gy Com­mis­sion­er Guen­ther Oet­ting­er made a strong start in Baku, the first stop­o­ver in their Cas­pi­an tour. Pres­i­dent Bar­ro­so and Azer­bai­jan's Pres­i­dent Ilham Ali­y­ev signed a joint dec­la­ra­tion on nat­u­ral gas sup­ply from Baku to Europe. In exchange for ensur­ing sub­stan­tial vol­umes of gas to the EU, Azer­bai­jan will get guar­an­teed access to Euro­pe­an mar­kets. Sour­ces in the Com­mis­sion reveal the dec­la­ra­tion is and impor­tant step towards estab­lish­ment of the Sout­hern Gas Cor­ri­dor and diver­si­fi­ca­tion of ener­gy sup­plies to Europe.
This is a major break­through, Pres­i­dent Bar­ro­so under­scored add­ing the agree­ment secures Europe's direct access to nat­u­ral gas from the Cas­pi­an basin, which ena­bles real­i­sa­tion of the South­ern Cor­ri­dor. This new sup­ply route will enhance the ener­gy secu­ri­ty of Euro­pe­an con­sum­ers and busi­ness­es, he stressed.
With gas imports climb­ing over the com­ing dec­ades, the EU needs new sup­pli­er nations and Azer­bai­jan is among the most favoured in addi­tion to our estab­lished part­ners, the Ener­gy Com­mis­sion­er Oet­ting­er said.
The South­ern Cor­ri­dor pro­vides for con­struc­tion of sev­er­al gas pipe­line fall­ing back on Cas­pi­an gas sup­plies. One of them is Nabuc­co pipe­line project (Tur­key-Bul­gar­ia-Roma­nia-Hun­ga­ry-Aus­tria) planned to bring 31 bcm per year of nat­u­ral gas from Cen­tral Asia / South Cau­ca­sus / Mid­dle East to the EU. Accord­ing to the plans, con­struc­tion of the pipe­line is sched­uled to start this year and the first vol­umes of nat­u­ral gas will flow in 2014. the oth­er route is Inter­con­nect­or Tur­key-Greece-Ita­ly (ITGI), which, like Nabuc­co, is backed by the EC. The oth­er pro­jects are White Stream and TAP (a project to con­nect Alba­nia and Ita­ly). Nabuc­co is designed to sup­ply gas to EU bor­ders using a brand new pipe­line while TAP and ITGI require exist­ing infra­struc­ture for­ti­fi­ca­tion in non-EU nations. The South­ern Cor­ri­dor involves Tur­key as a key trans­it coun­try.
The Baku doc­u­ment reit­er­ates the spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance of the Baku-Tbil­i­si-Cey­han oil pipe­line and the Baku-Tbil­i­si-Erzu­rum gas pipe­line for trans­por­ta­tion of ener­gy resour­ces from Azer­bai­jan and oth­er Cas­pi­an coun­tries. Both par­ties con­firmed the impor­tance of EU-Azer­bai­jan ener­gy rela­tions enshrined in the Mem­o­ran­dum of Under­stand­ing of Novem­ber 2006, its pro­vi­sions signed two years lat­er and in the ener­gy dec­la­ra­tion of the Pra­gue Sum­mit in May 2009.
This first writ­ten doc­u­ment for gas sup­plies from Baku to the EU, sets out the com­mon objec­tive is to see the South­ern Cor­ri­dor estab­lished and oper­a­tion­al as soon as pos­si­ble and to estab­lish the Repub­lic of Azer­bai­jan as a sub­stan­tial con­trib­u­tor to it. Trans­por­ta­tion, mar­ket­ing and allo­ca­tion of the gas pro­duced in Azer­bai­jan will entail no dis­crim­i­na­to­ry legal, reg­u­la­to­ry or trade con­di­tions. Mean­while, days ahead of the vis­it, the con­sor­ti­um run­ning Nabuc­co - the most com­pet­i­tive project in the South­ern Gas Cor­ri­dor - wel­comed Bar­ro­so and Oet­ting­er to Azer­bai­jan and Turk­men­is­tan in a spe­cial state­ment for the media ezpress­ing its sup­port for the EU offi­cials ini­ti­a­tive to pro­mote the project. Nabuc­co Gas Pipe­line Inter­na­tion­al points out 2011 is a par­a­mount year for Nabuc­co because of the deci­sions which will affect future EU ener­gy sup­plies. The con­sor­ti­um backs the efforts of EU insti­tu­tions to bol­ster the dia­logue and coop­er­a­tion with Cen­tral Asian coun­tries and believes par­tic­u­lar eco­nom­ic pro­jects such as Nabuc­co will bring clos­er the two regions.
Accord­ing to observ­ers, the upcom­ing stop­o­ver at Turk­men­is­tan hides more unknowns, but the good start made in Baku gives hope­ful prospects for the South­ern Cor­ri­dor and Europe.

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