BAKU: Azerbaijan, on Tuesday, inaugurated part of an ambitious $40 billion pipeline complex that will create the first direct route to transport gas from one of the world’s largest fields to Europe bypassing Russia.
“With this project, we are creating a new energy map of Europe,” Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in a televised ceremony where he turned on the taps at Sangachal Terminal, a gas processing facility located some 55 kilometres (35 miles) southwest of the capital Baku.
The Southern Gas Corridor aims to transport gas 3,500 kilometres from the Caspian Sea to Europe through three interconnected pipelines as the West is looking to reduce its reliance on Russian energy.
Aliyev praised support from the United States, Britain and the European Union and said “strong regional cooperation between Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia” in implementing the project involving seven countries and 11 companies.
“This project takes into account the interests of everyone – suppliers of gas, transit countries and consumers,” Aliyev said.
“If it were not for the balance of interests then the project would not exist,” he said at the ceremony attended by foreign dignitaries including OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo.
Trump extends support
US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Energy Resources Sandra Oudkirk said President Donald Trump supported the project, saying it would help ensure Europe’s energy security.
The $40-billion (35-billion-euro) project consists of three linked pipelines that will bring gas from the vast Azerbaijani Shah Deniz 2 field across Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea to southern Italy.
By 2020, the Southern Gas Corridor is expected to bring around 10 billion cubic metres of natural gas to Europe a year. Another 6 billion cubic metres of gas will go to Turkey.
The South Caucasus Pipeline from Azerbaijan will transport gas to Turkey, where it will feed into Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline, or TANAP, which is expected to be formally launched next month.
From Turkey, a new Trans-Adriatic Pipeline still under construction will take the gas on to Italy.