Southern routes of gas to Europe: fighting without competition

Southern routes of gas to Europe: fighting without competition

Azerbaijan, Baku, Nov. 27 /Trend/

Trend commentator Aygun Badalova

It is expected that the construction of the South Stream pipeline will be launched in early December. A final investment decision on the offshore section of the project was made in mid-November, and later head of Russia's Gazprom Alexei Miller announced that the construction of this section will be launched on December 7.

South Stream project is often seen as a rival to Nabucco the main purpose of which is to increase the energy security of Europe. The belief that the Russian project is a rival to Nabucco project, which was once called a priority for the European Union and that the start of construction of the South Stream would weaken the position and importance of the Nabucco can be called a mistake.

Nabucco, or more precisely Nabucco West, is part of a large Southern Corridor project, which will deliver gas from the Caspian region to the EU. It is the main advantage of the Southern Corridor project over the South Stream project, which is offering the diversification of supply routes, but did not diversify the sources of gas supply. And this, as the EU has repeatedly stated, is the main goal and an important element in ensuring the energy security of Europe.

"The EU has nothing against the South Stream, but it never was a European priority, because this project is diversifying routes, but not the sources of supply," source in the Energy Department of the European Commission told Trend earlier.

The Caspian region with its large gas reserves has always been attractive for Europe, and the opening of the Southern Gas Corridor will be a major step for its connection to the European markets.

Currently Azerbaijani gas, specifically natural gas, which will be produced in the second stage of development of Azerbaijani gas condensate field Shah Deniz is the main source of gas for the Southern Corridor.

At the same time, the Southern Gas Corridor is a project with great prospects. Pipeline capacity within the Southern Gas Corridor, it doesn't matter Nabucco West or Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) may be increased from 10 to 23-24 billion cubic meters per year without any technical difficulties if additional volume of gas (gas from other fields of Azerbaijan or Turkmen gas) is received.

A lot of work is done for the realization of the Southern Gas Corridor project. Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) project implemented together with Turkey, which involves the construction of a pipeline from Turkey's eastern border to the western border of the country and through which Azerbaijani gas will be delivered to Europe via Turkey, can be called the main evidence and an indicator of firm intention and real action of Azerbaijan for the implementation of the project. TANAP construction is scheduled to begin in 2013-2014.

To date, the main issue, which is remained is through which pipeline will Azerbaijani gas transported from the Turkish-Bulgarian border to the European markets. This issue will be resolved in 2013, followed by a final investment decision on the selected pipeline project. Thus, the construction of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline is expected to begin in 2015. Start of gas deliveries is expected in 2018.

Thus South Stream and Southern Corridor projects are ahead of the competition in terms of sources of gas supply. The opening of the Southern Gas Corridor is a realistic prospect Given the EU's energy plans for diversification, the presence of gas volumes, allowing the EU to achieve these goals, as well as the desire and effort of Azerbaijan to bring own gas to EU markets.

A realization of the South Stream project will in no way be able to prevent the opening of the Southern Gas Corridor. Moreover, these two projects can co-exist in parallel without interfering with each other. If Russia has the desire and financial ability to build the pipeline, it is its right and choice. European Union in this case will follow the principle of the more gas is better, and at the same time do not give up quite understandable and reasonable desire to have an alternative to Russian gas sources.

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