Initial phase of Southern Gas Corridor just the beginning: acting US energy envoy (exclusive)

Baku, Azerbaijan, Nov.16

By Leman Zeynalova – Trend:

The Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) project, which envisages delivery of Azerbaijani gas to Europe, could thus become a basis for positive cooperation across the region, Acting Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs at the US Department of State Sue Saarnio said in an exclusive interview with Trend.

She pointed out that the Southern Gas Corridor will make a significant contribution to Europe’s energy security.

“The SGC has made tremendous progress. Development of Azerbaijan’s offshore Shah Deniz 2 (SD2) gas field is nearly complete, as is the expansion of the South Caucasus Pipeline (SCPX) and construction of the Trans-Anatolian pipeline (TANAP). The final pipeline in the SGC, the Trans Adriatic pipeline (TAP), has also made substantial progress, especially in Greece and Albania. The Italian portion, after some initial challenges, is making good progress,” said Saarnio. “We remain confident that gas deliveries to Turkey will begin in 2018 and to Italy in a 2020/21 timeframe.”

Further, Saarnio noted that many EU members recognize that their reliance on a single source of natural gas imports exposes them to serious political and economic risks, and that they should take steps to diminish that reliance by diversifying their gas imports—by country of origin and path of delivery.

“While the EU has added LNG infrastructure—both terminals and floating storage regasification units (FSRUs)—the SGC is the only major pipeline project now under construction that will provide a new source and new route for gas delivery to Europe,” she said.

This is an enormously significant development and would not have been possible without the concerted and sustained efforts of countless government and private sector stakeholders from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Albania, Greece, Italy, the United Kingdom and elsewhere, according to Saarnio.

She pointed out that the U.S. government has strongly supported this project from its inception, much as we earlier supported the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline.

“The SGC and BTC are remarkable examples of what we can achieve when we work together toward a common purpose,” added Saarnio.

She said that the initial phase of the SGC, with gas supplies from SD2, is just the beginning.

“Under the right circumstances, the SGC could be expanded to deliver additional volumes from Azerbaijan, as well as new volumes from the Eastern Mediterranean and/or Turkmenistan,” she added. “ The SGC could thus become a basis for positive cooperation across the region, providing a range of gas producers with a stable source of export earnings, while helping to underpin Europe’s long term energy security.”

The Southern Gas Corridor is one of the priority energy projects for the EU. It envisages the transportation of gas from the Caspian region to the European countries through Georgia and Turkey.

At the initial stage, the gas to be produced as part of the Stage 2 of development of Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz field is considered as the main source for the Southern Gas Corridor projects. Other sources can also connect to this project at a later stage.

As part of the Stage 2 of the Shah Deniz development, the gas will be exported to Turkey and European markets by expanding the South Caucasus Pipeline and the construction of Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline and Trans Adriatic Pipeline.

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Follow the author on Twitter: @Lyaman_Zeyn

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