31 Dec 2020 16:37

Azerbaijan begins commercial gas deliveries to Europe - Energy Ministry

BAKU. Dec 31 (Interfax) - The Energy Ministry of Azerbaijan has announced the beginning of commercial gas deliveries via the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).

"Azerbaijan has begun commercial gas deliveries to Europe via the TAP, realizing the strategic goal of implementing the Southern Gas Corridor," the ministry said in a statement.

The transport of natural gas to Europe will strengthen the energy security of our country by diversifying the supply markets and of consumer countries by diversifying the sources and routes.

Out of more than 10 billion cubic meters of gas annually to be supplied to European countries in 25 years, 8 billion cubic meters will be exported to Italy, while 2 billion cubic meters equally to Greece and Bulgaria, and the rest to the surrounding markets.

Meanwhile consumers in Italy, Greece, and Bulgaria have begun receiving gas from Azerbaijan on December 31, the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) said in a statement.

"For the first time in history, Azerbaijan's natural gas reached the European market through a direct pipeline connection. Following the start of commercial operations on November 15, 2020, today the first gas has reached Italy, via the Melendugno interconnection point with SNAM Rete Gas (SRG), as well as Greece and Bulgaria, via the Nea Mesimvria interconnection point with DESFA," the statement said.

Direct access to the European gas market will allow Azerbaijan to diversify its exports, the company said.

"Seven years ago, we made the final investment decision together with our partners. We embarked on this journey by signing 25-year gas sales agreements with European gas distribution companies. The construction of three interconnected gas pipelines across continents with a total length of 3,500 kilometers was a highly complex endeavor. Back then, some were skeptical about this project. Now the mission is accomplished - Azerbaijan's natural gas has arrived to Europe," SOCAR President Rovnag Abdullayev was quoted as saying in the statement.

Abdullayev said that Azerbaijani gas was a new source of gas supply to Europe via an alternative route, thus, "it will contribute to European energy security. We anticipate a growing demand for additional gas volumes on the European market due to the constant local production decline. Our gas will fill this gap for decades to come," he said.

"The second phase of the market test enabling the future expansion of TAP, doubling the pipeline's capacity to 20 bcm per year, will be launched in summer," the statement said.

The Energy Ministry of Azerbaijan earlier announced the start of commercial Azerbaijani gas supplies to Europe as of December 31, 2020.

The pipeline is designed to transport natural gas from the Shah Deniz field through the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) as part of Stage 2 of its development. The pipeline makes it possible to double throughput capacity to 20 bcm per year.