Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šef?ovi? attended the first founding meeting of the Advisory Council on the Southern Gas Corridor in Baku yesterday (11 February), a project to bring gas from Azerbaijan to Europe by 2019-2020.
Ministers from transit countries, including Georgia, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Albania and Bulgaria also participated in the meeting hosted by the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliev, as well as representatives from the planned TANAP pipeline via Turkey, and the TAP (Trans-Adriatic) pipeline via Greece and Albania.
The participants adopted a joint declaration through which they established a format for working level consultations to address all outstanding matters as they may emerge during the implementation of the project “in the most practical and timely way”.
Šef?ovi? said in an interview with the APA agency that “Azerbaijan is today one of the EU’s major and most reliable energy partners, and this contributes to our mutual economy and energy security.”
Although only 10 billion of cubic metres per year (bcm/y) are expected to be delivered to the EU by 2019-2020, Azerbaijan has substantial gas reserves.
President Aliev was quoted as saying during the event that the country’s confirmed gas reserves exceed 2.5 trillion cubic metres (tcm), which allow supplies to last for dozens of years.
The Southern Gas Corridor has the potential to meet up to 20% of the EU’s gas needs in the future, with potential supplies from the Caspian Region, the Middle East, and the East Mediterranean in the longer term.
Šef?ovi? also said that the EU is developing gas interconnections in the Central and South East Europe in order to better connect the Southern Gas Corridor with European consumers.
Indeed, in the context of Russia’s abandonment of the South Stream project, Bulgaria is one of the countries showing the most interest in the Southern Gas Corridor project. Gas from the Southern Gas Corridor could also be brought to Romania, and further north.
Russia has decided to bring 63 bcm/y of gas via an offshore pipeline called “Turkish Stream” to European Turkey, and then to a gas hub, where EU customers could buy it. Šef?ovi? has said he didn’t believe in this project.
Asked about the EU relations with Turkey, Šef?ovi? said he had no reason to question the reliability of Turkey when it comes to the country’s energy relation with the EU.
The Commission is unable to open the energy chapter in the framework of the accession talks with Turkey due to the opposition of some member states. Šef?ovi?, however, said that the Commission believes that Turkey is sufficiently prepared to start negotiations under the energy chapter. He said that his services would continue to discuss this issue with the member states, stressing European interest in making progress.