EU, Azerbaijan sign Southern Gas Corridor agreement

Doris Leblond
OGJ Correspondent

PARIS, Jan. 19 -- Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev and European Commission Pres. Jose Manuel Barroso signed a joint declaration on the establishment of a Southern Gas Corridor (SGC). The leaders signed the agreement after talks in Baku on Jan. 13.

Under the deal, Azerbaijan is set to become a long-term and “substantial contributor” to the SGC. In return, Europe has promised “visa facilitation” for Azeri nationals, which would make travel to EU member states easier for citizens of Azerbaijan.

While there is no mention of the gas volumes to be delivered, there are reports of 10 billion cu m (bcm)/year. This volume would not be enough for Nabucco, the main gas line project in the SGC, which has a planned capacity of 38 bcm.

There are three smaller projects in the SGC that will also need gas: the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, the Turkey-Greece-Italy Interconnector, and the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Romania Interconnector.

Azerbaijan, which is as keen to diversify its gas exports as the EU wants to diversify its gas imports, is negotiating with several Western companies to grant access to 10 bcm of Azeri gas in Shah Deniz II field. On Jan. 12, Azerbaijan agreed to export at least 10 bcm/year of Azeri gas to Iran. It also sells gas to Russia.

“Azerbaijan will make a further decision on which of these pipelines to prioritize,” according to an EU Commission executive.

After leaving Baku, Barroso and Energy Commissioner Gunther Ottinger traveled to Turkmenistan—also with huge gas reserves—in their quest to see the SGC “established and operational as soon as possible.”

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