Gas pipeline project "White Stream" indicates sufficient resource base in Caspian Sea

Azerbaijan, Baku, August 7 / Trend A. Badalova /

The consortium of "White Stream" pipeline project thinks that the Caspian region has sufficient gas resources to implement several projects within the European concept of the "Southern Corridor". It envisages diversification of sources and routes of energy supplies to EU countries

"We are confident that plenty of gas can be made available in the Caspian region for westward transportation in the next ten years," White Stream Pipeline Consortium chairman Roberto Pirani told Trend via e-mail.

According to BP, as of January 1, 2010 the total proven gas reserves in the Caspian countries such as Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan exceed 11 trillion cubic meters.

"South Corridor" is a priority energy project for the EU aimed at increasing the energy security of European countries, includes such projects as the "White Stream", "Nabucco", ITGI (Turkey-Greece-Italy) and Trans-Adriatic-Pipeline (TAP) .

Shareholders of "South Corridor" project consider Azerbaijani gas as the basis for filling their gas pipelines at the first stage of their implementation. In particular, hopes are set on gas, which will be produced at the second stage of development of Azerbaijani gas condensate field Shah Deniz, scheduled for 2016-2017.

Azerbaijani Shah Deniz is one of the largest in the world. Its reserves are estimated at 1.2 trillion cubic meters of gas.

It is expected to receive 7.8 billion cubic meters in the field this year, peak production forecasted at over 8.6-9 billion cubic meters. It is planned that in the second stage of field development, gas production can be brought up to 25 billion cubic meters a year. Now gas is transported to Georgia and Turkey via the South Caucasus gas pipeline.

Pirani said that there are more than sufficient resources for both White Stream and Nabucco in the Caspian region, and even in Azerbaijan alone.

In the short term there appeared not to be enough gas only because the Shah Deniz phase II had not been sanctioned. But Azerbaijan will be able to achieve a high level of gas export to the EU at the expense of other fields, Pirani said.

But Azerbaijan expects to, after 5-7 years, increase its gas exports to different directions from Shah Deniz-2, Absheron, Nakhchivan, Bahar, and Umid-Babek and develop deep gas from Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil field, he said.

The latest developments suggest that some other fields, like Asiman-Shafag, Zafar-Mashal and even Dan Ulduzu- Ashrafi can be possibly added to this list, he said.

"It is our firm belief that when we complete the permitting package for White Stream, which will confirm White Stream's availability as a major transport infrastructure, some of the mentioned fields, and the Turkmen connection, will proceed into a much faster stage of the development," he said.

The initial capacity of "White Stream" pipeline will hit 8 billion cubic meters per year, which will be increased up to 16 and then up to 32 billion.

White Stream is an integral part of the Southern Corridor plan along with Nabucco and ITGI. The scale of EU future gas needs and projections of potential supply allows the implementation also of ITGI and even more further projects via Turkey, he said.

Pirani said that in the complex situation like the one we have in the Caspian, the perceived risks for the upstream investors of not been able to reach the markets might be so high, that an efficient reduction of transportation risks (to a level needed for stimulating upstream development) would require more than one transportation project to be developed concurrently.

White Stream and Nabucco are considered as an important element for the success of opening up the Caspian for the EU markets, he said.

The White Stream project was initiated not to substitute Nabucco, not to compete for resources or capacity in supply pipelines (SCP or TCGP), but to create a synergy leading to a reduction in perceived transportation risks and hence achieving a dramatic increase in gas availability, he said.

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