In the midst of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, Europe is looking for alternatives to Russian gas. In light of such events, as well as the potential for Azerbaijani gas exports and the implementation of large-scale projects, it is possible to say that Azerbaijan may become a good alternative and a lifeline for Europe in terms of gas supplies.
Against the backdrop of recent events, Azerbaijan’s geostrategic importance as a source of energy supply to Europe has already increased. Many European countries have expressed an interest in purchasing Azerbaijani natural gas.
Nowadays, Azerbaijan has become an important player in ensuring Europe’s energy security. With the completion of the TAP (Trans-Adriatic Pipeline) construction on December 31, 2020, Azerbaijan began commercial gas supplies to Europe via the Southern Gas Corridor. Last year, TAP transported 8.1 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe. By late 2022, Azerbaijan plans to increase gas supplies to Europe to 9.1 billion cubic meters, and in 2023 the volume of gas supplies is expected to reach 11 billion cubic meters.
Thomas Hegglin of the Swiss Gas Industry Association recently stated that in the event of disruptions in the supply of Russian gas to Europe, Switzerland will also have to reduce its consumption, stressing that one of the most important alternatives for Switzerland is Azerbaijani gas.
Hegglin noted that the shortage of Russian gas cannot be compensated for in Europe in full, at least not in the short term and without reducing consumption. In this regard, he stressed that Switzerland would still have an advantage as it will be able to continue receiving gas from Azerbaijan.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, during his official visit to Baku, noted that Albania and Azerbaijan have agreed on further steps in the energy field. He stated that they discussed the issue of gas supplies to Albania. In this regard, he noted that a technical team will start dealing with this issue soon.
Moreover, Serbian Mining and Energy Minister, Deputy Prime Minister Zorana Mihajlovic mentioned that Serbia plans to start receiving natural gas from Azerbaijan from September 2023.
Azerbaijan is also discussing the possibility and prospects of supplying natural gas to Moldova and Romania.
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio stated that Azerbaijan has expressed its readiness to increase energy supplies to Italy. It is worth noting that Azerbaijan is the largest supplier of crude oil to Italy and now thanks to the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline it is the third-largest supplier of gas.
There are different ways to deliver gas from Azerbaijan to Europe. It can go through the Southern Gas Corridor, and there are also some refinements, such as Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria, which should be completed by the end of June.
Today, the final work on the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB), which will transport natural gas from Azerbaijan to Bulgaria, is in full swing. It should be noted that Azerbaijan and Bulgaria agreed to supply 1 billion cubic meters of gas per year through the Greece-Bulgaria Interconnector beginning in 2021. However, because the IGB is still under construction, Azerbaijani gas is delivered to Bulgaria via the Kulata-Sidirokastro interconnection point. Currently, the country receives only one-third of this volume.
The consumers from Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia will also be able to use Azerbaijani gas through the Ionian-Adriatic pipeline in the future, which will become the northern branch of TAP.
Additionally, the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline, designed to bring Turkmen gas to Europe, was brought back on the agenda now.
It is worth noting that Azerbaijan is now planning to increase its use of renewable energy sources. In this regard, by generating electricity with renewable energy sources, it will be possible to export more gas volumes to the global market, allowing for an additional inflow of foreign currency into the country’s economy.
Azerbaijan has the potential to become a good alternative for Europe in terms of gas supplies due to its large amount of gas reserves, track record as a reliable energy partner, and implementation of large-scale energy projects.
By Ayya Lmahamad