SOUTHERN GAS CORRIDOR AND THE INTEREST OF BALKAN NATIONS
May 07th, 2015
Azerbaijan is promising to supply Europe with even more gas than already contracted - 10 billion cubic meters a year (bcma) from the Shah Deniz 2 field in Caspian Sea.
The Caspian nation plans to increase natural gas output to 50-60 bcm per year. After hitting this target Azerbaijan will become one of the major gas exporters to the EU, said Energy Minister Natik Aliyev, speaking at the 3rd Global Shared Societies Forum in Baku.
Even the Shah Deniz2 could produce more gas than planned, according to Minister. “Shah Deniz 2 is aiming to produce 16 bcma of natural gas. However, it is not a limit; it could be 20 or even 25 bcma. But we should understand, that it is quite technically challenging project,” said the Azeri Energy Minister.
“With providing independent policy in energy issues Azerbaijan has been implementing major projects, including the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC). It will enable us to supply our gas to the European markets soon," said the Minister adding that Azerbaijan has no problems with financing of these projects.
With its vast energy resources, Azerbaijan is among the top ten countries with the highest volume of energy per capita, said Minister Aliyev.
“Last year we produced 42 million tons of oil. Gas production rose from 5 bcm in 2003 to 29 bcm last year,” he said adding that with estimated gas reserves of 2.6 trillion cubic meters its extraction can be extended to 90 years.
Azerbaijan considers the western market as most attractive to export its energy resources. Europe could be destination for supply oil and gas for Central Asian nations also, said Aliyev.
"The European market is attractive for energy supply. For years we are in talks for deliver gas from Central Asia to Europe. As is known, Turkmenistan along with Russia and Qatar also huge gas resources," said Aliyev, adding that today (30 April) in the Turkmen capital of Ashgabat, a multilateral meeting will be held for this matter.
Energy security was one of main discussion topics in Baku forum. Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev, Macedonia’s (FYROM) President Ǵorge Ivanov, and former Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Svetkovich shared their views of importance of SGC.
The Southern Gas Corridor is of strategic importance for the EU and especially for Bulgaria and South East Europe, said President Plevneliev.
Bulgaria will build its Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria to connect with the Trans Adriatic Pipeline which will transport Azerbaijani gas to Europe.
“We have a purchase contract for more than one billion cubic meters of gas per year from SOCAR,” the Bulgarian President said, adding that Bulgaria hopes “to activate it sooner.”
Serbia does not have enough energy resources to meet the nation’s consumption, said its former Prime Minister Svetkovich.
Expressing his disappointment with Russia’s decision to cancel the South Stream project, Svetkovich said his country is looking at other options for receiving gas.
"In Serbia, gas production is only 15 per cent of total consumption; we import the bulk of needed energy resources. We have the only sources of gas supply from Russia, which is delivered to us via Hungary. Serbia built a gas storage, but, nevertheless, the situation is not so favorable. Signing the agreement with Russia for gas supply via South Stream we hoped that we secure our future. Unfortunately, the project is not existed any more. Now we considering of the diversification of supply sources and projects, but this requires time, " said Svetkovich.
Not only former officials but also the current Serbian government considers Azerbaijan and the SGC as alternative sources for energy supply.
The issue was discussed recently during the mid-April official visit to Baku of Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic.
At the meetings, a SOCAR agreement was reached for setting up a commission that will look into the possibilities of supplying gas to Serbia from Azerbaijan.
Prime Minister Vucic said it is very important that Serbia is attempting to connect to SCG, that will help the country diversify its supply sources.
Technically it will be possible with the construction of a Bulgaria - Serbia (IBS) interconnector. It is a project which includes the construction of a 150km long pipeline, which will connect the gas transmission networks of the two countries. The pipeline will run between Nis in Serbia to Dupnitsa, located near Bulgaria's capital city of Sofia.
Macedonia also expressed its interest to connect to TAP, that will allow it to diversify energy sources and improve energy security.
According to President Ǵorge Ivanov, the Republic of Macedonia intends to join TAP. “We have not received a proposal on joining TAP yet. However, we intend to join this project”, Ivanov told to reporters in Baku, adding that the issue will be discussed during official visit to Macedonia of President Ilham Aliyev, whom he invited during their meeting in Baku.
Azerbaijan is welcoming the of expansion SCG in Europe, and more precisely, the Balkans.
"In the coming years, I am sure that the countries of the Balkan region will join our pipeline system. Especially since the interconnectors are being built, which we fully support, because Azerbaijan has enormous, huge gas reserves, infrastructure, which is already in the process of construction," the President Aliyev said in his speech at the Baku forum.
The European segment of SGC – TAP always pointed out that the pipeline’s routing can facilitate gas supply to several South Eastern European countries, including Bulgaria, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia and others.