Azerbaijani gas now shares 20-80 percent of the overall gas consumption in different foreign countries. Azerbaijan, after the completion of the Southern Gas Corridor managed to increase its export to international markets, including, European markets. Last year Azerbaijani export of natural gas was 19 billion cubic meters, including 7 billion to Italy and also to other members of the Team-Georgia, Greece, Bulgaria. After Albania completes its gas distribution network, it will also be a recipient of Azerbaijani gas.
During the Ministerial Meeting of the Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council, more countries, specifically Western Balkan countries and companies were present than last year. It means that Azerbaijani gas is needed for new markets. When the situation on the EU gas market is not very stable and the crisis is very volatile, Azerbaijan steps up and shows willingness to support energy security of the EU.
As the European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson said during Ministerial Meeting of the Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council: “Reliable, competitive, affordable gas is making its way to South Eastern Europe. Homes are supplied, buildings are heated and citizens receive the energy they need. And with rising energy prices and tightened gas supplies, the Corridor’s role is strategically important for the EU, now more than ever.”
But why Azerbaijan gas is reliable?
President Ilham Aliyev said that Azerbaijan started its oil exports in 2006 and since then it provided energy resources to international market without any disruption, without any violation of the contract and without any political agenda. He stressed that Azerbaijan’s energy policy is open, transparent and business-and result oriented.
How Azerbaijan plans to achieve more and diverse energy supply to EU?
The proven gas reserves of Azerbaijan are known. It’s 2.6 trillion cubic meters. This statistic shows that Azerbaijan is capable of more than planned gas supply through the Corridor. But the game changer here is the renewable sources of energy – green energy which is also in direct line with EU’s policy on promoting gradual switch to low carbon gas.
Azerbaijan largely invested in electric infrastructure. According to the assessment of the World Economic Forum assessment, Azerbaijan ranks 2nd in the world in the rating of the accessibility to energy in Azerbaijan. This year globally well-known ACWA-Power energy company fully financed the construction of new wind power station for 240 megawatts in Khizi, Azerbaijan. Soon, new power station in Gobu district of Baku with the capacity of almost 400 megawatts will be inaugurated.
Furthermore, there is also huge green energy potential for EU markets after the liberation of the territories of Azerbaijan from the Armenian occupation. It is important to note that Armenia, for about 30 years, kept under occupation almost 20 percent of the territory of Azerbaijan. In the result of 2nd Karabakh War, Azerbaijan put an end to the occupation, successfully implemented UN Security Council’s 1993 resolutions on this matter and restored its territorial integrity. Armenia’s occupation not only impeded further support of EU’s energy security, but also jeopardized the functioning of the Southern Gas Corridor.
It is worth to note that the relevant public authorities of Azerbaijan together with leading companies prepared a conceptual outlook for “green energy” zone in Karabakh and Eastern Zangazur. The international assessment of the potential of renewable sources in Karabakh and Eastern Zangazur and preliminary figures are very promising. It’s about 7,200 megawatt potential in wind energy, and more than 2,000 megawatt potential in solar energy.
Azerbaijan’s strategic partner in oil and gas – BP also shows big interest in working on the liberated territories, particularly, in the district of Jabrayil. Currently, there are ongoing negotiations with BP on the construction of the renewable source of energy there- more than 200 megawatts. Furthermore, technical renewable energy potential of the Caspian Sea is more than 150,000 megawatts. Azerbaijan has already diversified electric lines with its neighbor countries Turkey, Georgia and Iran.
In respect to plans on building electric lines under the Black Sea, connecting central Europe with our region, there is a big potential in this regard. I understand that Black Sea project may seem skeptical, but we all remember the difficulties the Southern Gas Corridor had to overcome and even those countries were skeptical about the potential of this project are grateful for this opportunity. History showed us that careful planning in energy security is the most important part of the process.
Regarding the Southern Gas Corridor, even though it is complete and functional today, but its ministerial meetings still continue. Because SGC now plays role of the neutral platform for discussing changing energy interests of EU countries. This establishes new links between countries and support them to overcome new challenges together.