Details added (first version posted on 12:39)
Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb. 11
By Elena Kosolapova - Trend:
Supply of Azerbaijani gas will contribute to Europe's energy security, Ambassador of Azerbaijan to the US Elin Suleymanov said.
He made the remarks during the Atlantic Council's discussion of "Developing a Western Energy Strategy for the Black Sea Region and Beyond".
"I would say that, first of all, the issue of European markets, it's not - it's not the amount of supply," he said. "It's not the volume of gas which is available. It matters not how much gas you get, it matters the security and the uninterruptible supply of gas. I mean, that's the most important issue. Security of supply is perhaps more important than the volume set."
Diversity of gas supply means definitely its security, according to Suleymanov.
"And we know we're not going to replace the Russian gas, but to understand that the more supply - the more secure supply, the more diverse of the European supplies would basically mean good things for all us, including Gazprom, who is also competing on the market, of course," Azerbaijani ambassador said.
"The other thing is that the Azerbaijani approach has never been anti-Gazprom or in an effort to replace the Russian gas," Suleymanov said. "Azerbaijani approach to European energy security and diversity is not anti-somebody, it is actually pro-European - pro-European energy security."
"The Southern Gas Corridor is a unique project," he said. "It's about a $45 billion project, spans over six and possibly seven countries, if we include Bulgaria. We talk about 11 companies involved, six or seven very, very independently minded governments."
The Southern Gas Corridor is one of the priority energy projects for the EU. At the initial stage, the gas to be produced as part of the Stage 2 of development of Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz field is considered as the main source for the Southern Gas Corridor projects. Other sources can also connect to this project at a later stage.
As part of the Stage 2 of the Shah Deniz development, the gas will be exported to Turkey and European markets by expanding the South Caucasus Pipeline and the construction of Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline and Trans-Adriatic Pipeline.
"So success of that project has been extremely telling on how much political will is there," Suleymanov said. "So it's not just energy supply, it's not just hydrocarbons, it's not just the pipes. It's also the political commitment, which is a fundamental reason for this ongoing success."
Thankfully, the gas from the Southern Gas Corridor has already been sold to nine companies for 20 years ahead, Suleymanov said.
"So I can assure you that now regardless of the oil prices, which go up and down, as has happened before, Azerbaijani side and its other partners, we believe, are fully committed to completing the Southern Gas Corridor under any price of oil," he said.
He reminded that during the start of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline construction the price of oil was around $25. "So this is not a new development," Suleymanov said. "You have to have a long view."
"Interconnectors are of utmost importance," the ambassador also said, adding that construction of interconnectors from the Black Sea to the Eastern European countries is extremely important for ensuring European energy security.
Speaking about the projects implemented by Azerbaijan, the ambassador said that they are not limited to energy sphere, and brought the New Silk Road project as an example.
But most important now is the railway between Azerbaijan and European railway system, he said, adding that the first test train from Ukraine to China recently went through Azerbaijan into Kazakhstan. "And we hope that it will reach China soon," the ambassador said. "So that shows the new opportunities in the region."
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