Svante Cornell: Europe interested in energy supplies from Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb. 23 /Trend, E.Tariverdiyeva/

Europe is very interested in ensuring its energy security and will do everything possible, especially in light of recent geopolitical changes, Svante Cornell, Director of the Central Asia and Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University, told Trend.

"Today the situation with the energy security in Europe is questionable, given the crisis in the Middle East," said a member of Trend Expert Council, Cornell.

The energy supplies, which are strategic for Europe, have been violated in connection with the events in Libya. Italian Eni Energy Company - a leader in the production of hydrocarbons in Libya - has decided to block the Green Stream pipeline, which transports Libyan gas to Italy, Italian media reported on Feb. 22 with reference to sources familiar with the situation.

The Apennines receives about 9.2 billion cubic meters of gas per year from this North African country via the Green Stream gas pipeline, RIA Novosti reported. According to sources, the decision to gradually reduce the gas supply via the pipeline has been taken for security purposes.

Protest actions in the Libyan provinces demanding Gaddafi's resignation and all senior officials have been continuing since Feb. 15. According to data provided by the international human rights organizations, the protest actions have killed about 500 and wounded about 4,000 people. Libyan authorities, however, refute information on mass death of people.
International energy companies evacuate their staff from the country. It has already been done by the British BP, Italy's Eni, French Total, Norwegian Statoil and Anglo-Dutch concern Shell, Russian Gazprom.

According to Cornell, the situation in the Middle East is very tense and it is unknown how long the confrontation of the people and authorities in the countries of the region will continue.
It is impossible to predict what will be the geopolitical picture of the region in the near future, he said.

"So, now the question of energy security has become paramount for Europe," he said.
Given the economic crisis, Europe does not pay attention to large-scale economic projects, but as soon as it starts to withdraw from the crisis, the situation must change, the expert said.

"For Europe, now it is very important to ensure energy supplies from the Caspian region, including from Azerbaijan, and not necessarily just through the Nabucco project," said Cornell.
Nabucco is a very large-scale project that requires huge investments, and today, the European investors prefer to subsidize the smaller-scale projects delivering energy from the Caspian region to Europe, he said."This makes sense, such projects may prove to be a test version of gas flow from the Caspian region to Europe, which will reveal all the pros and cons of the route," said Cornell.

The Nabucco project envisages transporting gas from the Caspian region and the Middle East to the EU. Maximum capacity of the pipeline with a length of 3,300 km is 31 billion cubic meters. Project participants are the Austrian OMV, Hungarian MOL, Bulgarian Bulgargaz, Romanian Transgaz, Turkish Botas and German RWE. Each participant has an equal share of 16.67 percent.

The main suppliers of gas for the project are considered Azerbaijan, Iraq, Turkmenistan.
Construction is scheduled to begin in 2012. First deliveries via the pipeline are projected for 2015.

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