EU to advance diversification projects in South East Europe

Baku, Azerbaijan, Jan. 16

By Aygun Badalova - Trend:

There is broad consensus in South East Europe on the necessity to increase integration of the region and provide real diversification of gas supplies to the region, the European Commission spokesperson told Trend.

"In this context the creation of the High Level Working Group (HLWG) has been tasked with advancing the most important cross-border diversification projects in the region," the spokesperson said adding that the HLWG will start its work with a first meeting in Sofia in the coming weeks.

In early December, 2014, the representatives of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Romania and Slovenia held a meeting, during which the sides agreed on the necessity to integrate the gas markets of Central and South-Eastern Europe and diversify the gas suppliers and routes.

According to the post-meeting joint statement, the integration of gas markets and the diversification of gas supplies will namely require putting in place the necessary infrastructure - which can be done by implementing key regional projects.

The LNG terminals with corresponding pipeline systems, connections to the Southern Gas Corridor, or the development of East Mediterranean and Black Sea offshore gas reserve were named among such projects.

Further talking about Russia's plans to deliver 63 cubic meters of gas to the European Union through the new Turkish route, bypassing Ukrainian territory, the spokesperson told Trend that the Commission takes note of Gazprom's recent announcement.

"Security of energy supply and gas cooperation in South East Europe and Ukraine are of paramount priority for the European Commission," the spokesperson said.

"Commission's services will analyse Gazprom's plan with regard to its economic viability as well as regulatory and legal feasibility/consequences before taking a final position. In any case the European Commission expects that obligations arising from existing gas contracts are met," the spokesperson added.

Earlier this week the EU energy chief Maros Sefcovic and Gazprom head Alexei Miller held talks in Moscow. During the talks Miller announced that Gazprom is planning to deliver 63 cubic meters of gas to the EU using its newly-mapped Turkish route. At the same time he called on the European partners to create the necessary infrastructure at the Turkish-Greek border.

Russia's new gas plans came after the country's cancellation the South Stream gas pipeline project, which was designed to run through the Black Sea to the South and Central Europe, bypassing Ukraine, in order to diversify the natural gas export routes.

In December, 2014, Gazprom and Turkey's BOTAS state pipeline company signed a memorandum of understanding on construction of an offshore gas pipeline across the Black Sea towards Turkey with the annual capacity of 63 billion cubic meters of gas per year.

Under this agreement, it is planned to supply 14 billion cubic meters of gas to Turkey and the remaining part - nearly 50 billion cubic meters of gas - to the Turkish-Greek border.

Russia has been already supplying its gas to Turkey through the Blue Stream pipeline across the Black Stream.

Aygun Badalova is Trend Agency's staff journalist, follow her on Twitter:@AygunBadalova

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