Caspian gas strives for Europe

Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb. 19 / Trend /

Trend Deputy Director Seymur Aliyev

Europe's great concern over alternative routes of energy supply has greatly increased interest in natural gas reserves in the Caspian region. Given that all countries with significant gas reserves in the region have repeatedly expressed readiness to supply their resources to Europe. The issue of energy delivery to the European markets is the main matter for today.

Not only Azerbaijan's natural gas reserves, but also the energy delivery route from the east coast of the Caspian Sea through the Azerbaijani territory causes considerable interest. Interest in this route, primarily is explained through its realistic alternative. Other routes for delivery of the Central Asian gas can be laid either through Russia, from the monopoly of which Europe wants to get rid, or through Iran, with which European countries has instable political relations in recent years.

It is necessary to establish a special infrastructure to supply gas from the eastern coast of the Caspian Sea. Construction of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline to deliver gas from Turkmenistan, which has the most significant gas reserves in the Central Asia (7.94 trillion cubic meters according to the BP - 4th place in the world) has been raised for many years, but the issue remains unresolved because of the inconsistency status of Caspian Sea.

Recently, the possibility of liquefying natural gas at special terminals and its transport across the sea to Azerbaijan and further to Europe has been raised. The Azerbaijani State Caspian Shipping Company already has experience in the transportation of liquefied natural gas from Turkmenistan by ferries. For this, the company established special security systems required for the transport of liquefied gas on the ferries. However, the liquefied gas transportation by ferries will not give the volume needed to fill the pipeline.

Based on the specialists' estimates, in absence of Trans-Caspian gas pipeline, creating the infrastructure for liquefying natural gas, using special gas carriers for the transport of goods can be profitable only if more than 30 billion cubic meters of gas is transported via this route. Thus, establishing the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline is the most profitable, affordable and a real project for the delivery of Turkmen gas to Europe via Azerbaijan.

Presently, the project on liquefaction of the Caspian gas for its further transportation to Europe is considered not only on the basis of the Caspian ports. According to statements by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) officials, presently the relevant agencies consider the construction of a terminal for refining the Azerbaijani gas on Georgia's Black Sea coast (SOCAR owns the Kulevi oil terminal) and its transportation by the vessels to Romania or Bulgaria for its onward dispatch to the internal transmission network of Europe. The project is considered in two directions - LNG and CNG. First is the construction of gas liquefaction plant and the second is delivery of gas directly to the ship for its compression. This project deals with about 7-20 billion cubic meters of gas.

The pipeline routes are the most appropriate projects to transport the Caspian gas to Europe. Particularly, EU attaches great importance to the Southern Energy Corridor involving the gas supply from the Caspian region through Turkey, via Nabucco, ITGI and Trans-Adriatic gas pipeline to Europe.

However, lack of both coordination of transit through Turkey and concrete actions on these projects contravenes the process of gas transport via these routes and leads to search of new alternative routes to transport the Caspian gas to the European countries.

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