Times of Malta: More than gas in the Azeri pipeline

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TRUBA88Times of Malta newspaper has posted an article headlined More than gas in the Azeri pipeline.
The article reads: “When Azerbaijan Ambassador Vaqif Sadiqov visited Malta last August to meet Prime Minister Joseph Muscat for the first time, he mentioned that the possible use of Azeri gas at the new power station would be on the agenda.
The outcome went well beyond just the provision of gas… The state-owned energy company Socar has a 20 per cent stake in Electro Gas Malta, which was chosen to build the new station and supply Enemalta with electricity and liquefied natural gas for 18 years – five of them at a set price.
The Geneva-based company also has a stake in a Greek distribution network and LNG terminal, which gives it a strong Mediterranean presence.
Azerbaijan wants to be the “reliable” energy partner for Europe, as an alternative to maverick Russia, which currently provides around a quarter of the continent’s 500 billion cubic metre annual gas consumption.
The agreement for a gas pipeline was signed last December, which will carry some eight billion cubic metres of gas per year, via Turkey, Greece and Albania to Italy, with the possibility of increasing this to 22 billion cubic metres. The pipeline will be operational by 2019. There are already numerous other countries considering a spur from this pipeline – such as the Balkans.
However, the country wants to diversify its economy and $28 billion is being invested in infrastructure in 2014 – $17 billion of it by the government itself. At the moment, oil and gas accounts for 90 per cent of its exports but its banking and construction sectors are seeing double-digit booms. The government also wants to expand even further into telecommunications and space.
Last year, Malta exported just $400,000 worth – $155,000 of it being aircraft parts – but imported $51 million worth. This placed Malta in ninth position as Azerbaijian’s trading partner but the gas deal will clearly make a dramatic impact on this.
Success in the energy sector has only made Mr. Sadiqov more determined than ever to forge closer ties, boosted by the recent double taxation agreement.
The Mediterranean Diplomatic Academy is training a few Azeris every year, and Mr. Sadiqov is also planning a number of cultural events to promote his country as a tourism destination.
“Azerbaijan is a very interesting country to visit, with a very different culture. At the moment, there are two flights a week from Rome and from Milan but there are plans to increase these. Perhaps we will one day have a direct flight from Malta: It is only 4.5 hours by air,” he said, AzerTAc reports.

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