Modern Diplomacy: Southern Gas Corridor of particular importance to EU

Thu 08 Nov 2018 14:38 GMT | 18:38 Local Time

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The Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) project is of particular importance for the European Union (EU), and Azerbaijan, which has a favorable geographical position, can play a connecting role between Europe and Asia, says the article entitled “German-Russian energy relations and South Caucasus” and published in "Modern Diplomacy" by the Senior Specialist in the Institute of Caucasus Studies at Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences Aliyar Azimov.

In his article, Azimov considers the energy cooperation between the Russian Federation and Germany, as well as the cooperation of Azerbaijan with Germany and the EU in the same context.

The author of the article noted that the EU strongly corporates with Azerbaijan and gives serious support in order to implement gas projects by Azerbaijan. At the same time, Azerbaijan is the main trade partner of Germany in South Caucasus. In this regard, A.Merkel’s South Caucasus visit is particularly important in terms of geostrategic energy politics, Azimov noted.

Speaking about the EU’s strategy to diversify energy supply routes, he stressed the importance of the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) in this regard.

"Azerbaijan provides gas to South Europe by TAP project and in future, it is planned to extend SGC’s range into most important regions of the EU. The most important nuance here is that, if the Trans-Caspian project [involves gas supplies from Turkmenistan through Azerbaijan to Europe] is to be realized, the Southern Gas Corridor will provide Europe with a much larger amount of energy resources,” Azimov wrote.

So, while in the aggregate, the SGC will supply 16 billion cubic meters of gas per year to Europe, then the implementation of the Trans-Caspian pipeline project will increase this capacity enormously.

The author believes Azerbaijan is important for the EU and Germany due to several reasons. Firstly, Azerbaijan’s geographically location makes it opening the door between Asia and Europe.

Secondly, the EU tries to implement energy strategies on diversification of routes in order to reduce its dependency on Russia. Therefore, the EU and Germany give support to the SGC and TAP in order to ensure its security of supply. Because these projects are the most optimal way to export energy resources of the Caspian region to the European market.

Thirdly, if Trans-Caspian is implemented, it will be possible to export natural resources of Iran, Iraq and Turkmenistan by passing through Azerbaijan to Europe.

At the same time, the author believes that if Trans-Caspian is implemented it may reduce the influence of Iran and China on this region. In this regard, Russia will be more interested in this project, because in this situation China will need Russia even more.

Azimov explains this by saying that Russia is interested in less gas export to China from Turkmenistan and this situation can lead Russia to become the main energy partner of China. From Iran's perspective, Azimov noted, it does not seem realistic that Iran can react against these processes. Because the current political and economic situation in Iran diminished its influence in the region and Iran needs Russia’s serious support after the sanctions as well.

The Southern Gas Corridor is one of the priority energy projects for the European Union and provides for the transportation of 10 billion cubic meters of Azerbaijani gas from the Caspian region through Georgia and Turkey to Europe..

On May 29, Baku hosted the launch ceremony of the first phase of the Southern Gas Corridor project.

The gas from the Azerbaijani Shah Deniz field has already gone through the first segment of the Southern Gas Corridor - from the Sangachal terminal to the expanded South Caucasus Pipeline. The next stage is the commissioning of the TANAP gas pipeline, through which gas will flow into Turkey and further to Europe.

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