As the EU is seeking to rapidly cut its dependencies on Russian gas, Azerbaijan has real potential to become a key partner on future energy security arrangements, CEO at SMARTLINK COMMUNICATIONS, global analyst, consultant, trainer and think tanker Radu Magdin said in an interview with Trend.
“We know and welcome that Azerbaijan is already now increasing deliveries of natural gas to the EU, from 8.1 billion cubic meters in 2021 to an expected 12 billion cubic meters in 2022. This positive scenario, combined with the EU agreement with Azerbaijan, signed on July 18, stands proof of the positive potential of strengthened energy cooperation. While the agreement itself aims at increasing the country’s gas exports to Europe through the Southern Gas Corridor, it can also open further opportunities for both sides, either bilaterally or under a reshuffled Eastern Partnership. It is truly historical that the agreement envisages a substantial increase in the annual volume of gas exported from Azerbaijan to Europe over the next five years, from ensuring roughly 2.5 percent of the EU’s gas consumption now, to around 5 percent by 2027. It might not sound much, but in reality, it will cover more than 10 percent of the gas that Europe used to get from Russia until recently,” he said.
Magdin pointed out that strengthened cooperation with Azerbaijan will also contribute to the diversification objectives envisioned in the REPowerEU Plan and help Europe end its decades-long dependency on Russian gas.
“And European officials are certainly grateful to the country and will return the favor through other key projects for Azerbaijan. Because the EU's collective decision is to limit the purchase of natural gas from Russia, Azerbaijan is an appropriate solution for Europe. By signing this agreement, Azerbaijan has entered a new stage in the era of complex challenges affecting global energy security. Strategic partnership relations in this field impose obligations on both Azerbaijan and the EU. First of all, the expansion of the Southern Gas Corridor requires additional investments, however investors, including the European Investment Bank, will most likely be attracted to the expansion of the gas pipeline capacity, with the support of the EU,” noted the analyst.
Magdin believes that EU and Azerbaijan should together maintain future trends in close focus.
“As multiple energy experts and European officials noted, Azerbaijan has tremendous potential in renewable energy. This is why the EU already expressed its intention to cooperate with the country in this field as well, notably in relation to Azerbaijan’s solar and wind energy production,” he added.
The supply of Azerbaijani gas to Europe through the Southern Gas Corridor began on December 31, 2020. Azerbaijan exported its natural gas to the European market through pipelines for the first time in history.
The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) which is the European part of the Southern Gas Corridor, annually supplies eight billion cubic meters of gas to Italy and one billion cubic meters of gas to Greece and Bulgaria.
The European Union has expressed its support to the expansion of the Southern Gas Corridor. In July this year, Azerbaijan and the European Commission signed a memorandum of understanding, which among other issues, also envisages doubling the Corridor’s capacity to 20 billion cubic meters per year by 2027.