Energy map of the Greater Middle East remains volatile
In southern Italian region of Salento events began to occur, the consequences of which may affect the timing of the project to build the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) – an integral part of the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC), where it is planned to supply Azerbaijani gas to Europe. When the TAP consortium proceeded to transplant perennial olive trees from the area of San Foca in Salento region, where the gas pipeline, No TAP Committee will host spoke with the protests and called to stop the transplant. She was supported by the urban municipality of Melendugno, the administrative center of Salento. Local authorities have sent a petition to the appropriate department of urban planning and environmental landscape. Now it is reported that if the trees are not replanted until the end of April, all the work on their transplant can be postponed to November, which in turn will slow down the implementation of the TAP project for at least six months. As the initiator of this action is called the leader of the Italian non-system opposition, famous blogger, actor and satirist Beppe Grillo, leader of the movement “five stars”, which is not the first time appears in this field.
Earlier SOCAR vice president Elshad Nasirov said in an interview with Italian journalists hinted that in the agitation against the TAP gas pipeline to Italy is Moscow. Specific facts do not lead, and the conclusions have been made, as he wrote Baku portal haqqin. az, «only through logical reasoning and comparison of facts.” It also notes “address the main customer of these protests -” Gazprom “, which is allegedly” aims to delay the implementation of the Azerbaijani project to promote their own “. By the way, Baku then stated that “can turn a gas pipe in the direction of other European countries, that this will be only too happy.” But something is not turned. Do prevent this recent visit to Italy, Vice-President of the European Commission for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič, who held talks on TAP is unknown. But the fact of the visit indicates that around Azerbaijani project SGC afoot another affair with geopolitical flavor. Therefore, to clarify the situation, we decided to use the “path of reasoning.”
First, we note that under the project “Southern Gas Corridor” refers to several gas pipelines: the existing South Caucasus gas pipeline Baku – Tbilisi – Erzurum gas pipeline, under construction Trans-Anatolian (TANAP) and the Trans-Adriatic (TAP) gas pipelines, intended for gas supplies from the Caspian region to Europe bypassing Russia . The only source of gas pipe is filling Azerbaijan. It is alleged that the TAP and TANAP, united on the Turkish-Greek border, will ensure the delivery of 16 billion cubic meters of gas from the field “Shah Deniz” to southern Italy via Greece, Albania and the Ionian Sea. Total project costs SGC, including investments in the development of the second phase of “Shah Deniz” field of the Caspian, are estimated at $ 40 billion. But while the World Bank provided a loan to Azerbaijan just $ 400 million, and then only for the completion of construction of TANAP. Compared with the volumes of Russian gas supplies to Europe on 30-32% level, Baku “plays” in the second or third league. In 2016 year, Moscow has put in CIS countries (EU and Turkey) 179,3 billion cubic meters. Therefore, to claim that Azerbaijan can act as a guarantor of some of Europe’s energy security is real only in the presence of a very rich imagination.
Recently, negotiations were held in Baku – at the level of consultations – with the participation of Albania, Turkey, Montenegro, Croatia, Italy, Greece, Azerbaijan and Georgia, who want to enter the SGC project. Negotiations negotiations. Their only political exoticism was attended by US State Department spokesman Robin Dunnigan, which was seen as “an important element of the emerging US President Trump’s policy towards Azerbaijan,” what if “the United States are proponents of energy independence in Europe” and are ready to support Baku in the implementation of energy projects, although only ideally Azerbaijan can close only 20% of Europe’s gas needs. For Baku is an important source of foreign currency revenues, but it is not a game the level of high politics.
It is no accident, as the Oil Research Center Ilham Shaban, the head, “the official Brussels makes the seemingly strong statements about the growing desire as soon as possible to receive Azerbaijani gas, but real steps is not done.” Hence, there is a temptation to politicize the situation, raise suspicions that Russia is trying to use the alleged events in Italy for the promotion of “Turkish stream” competing with the SGC project. The representative of SOCAR Azerbaijani State Oil Company in Brussels, Vusal Mammadov, for example, the sale of Azerbaijani gas to Europe considers “strategic goal” and adds: “Recent events in Ukraine have further increased the role of Caspian gas to Europe, but even if these events has not been given in any case, the question would be important. Due to the Southern Gas Corridor, the EU will have access to a completely new gas field “.
At the same time there is also a version according to which “Gazprom”, using the provisions of the third energy package, may use additional power TAP to supply its gas to Europe under the “Turkish Stream”, which generally negates the importance of Azerbaijan as a significant energy player. Do not disregard the statement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to which Israel is also considering the possibility of connecting to the pipeline for the export of its gas from offshore fields in the Mediterranean Sea.
It is curious that Azerbaijan, whose gas is inside the country, and Turkey, around which, according to the Deputy Director General of the Turkish company BOTAŞ Ibrahim Said Arinc, “is about 74% of world reserves of natural gas,” together appeared in a zone of geopolitical turbulence that interferes experts to build a stable forecasts for the emerging energy map of the region and the prospects of the Tibet Autonomous region. But while the situation “by the throat” in Salento holds Grillo, showing that, in spite of the signed agreement and the initial investment, nothing can not be pre-determined and undisputed.