Azerbaijan activated the Southern Gas Corridor at the end of 2020, which ensures commercial deliveries of blue fuel to the European Union while cutting out Russia. This is a historic event and the beginning of the end of Russian Gazprom’s domination of the European gas market. On the last day of 2020, Azerbaijan began commercial gas deliveries to the European Union through the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC). This is a system of three gas pipelines running through Georgia, Turkey and two seas — the Caspian and Adriatic. The route omits both Russia and Ukraine, which have been dominating gas delivery routes to the EU market.
The new — and for now — only gas supplier to use the route is Azerbaijan. The Azeris announced that the strategic goal in fulfilling the project of the SGC had been achieved. They pointed out that initiating delivery of gas to the European market had opened a new chapter in their country’s development as a gas exporter. The gas flowing through the SGC does not come from the inexhaustible Russian sources but from an entirely new one — the Azeri undersea deposit Shah Deniz. The confirmed resources of the deposit are to amount to 1.2 trillion cubic meters of natural gas (this is equivalent to how much Russia produces in three years) and 240 million tons of gas condensate. Wikimedia Commons Southern Gas Corridor. The deposit, located in the Caspian Sea, has attracted the biggest companies in the industry. The deposit’s operator, BP and Norwegian Eqinor (formerly Statoil) have over 25 percent of shares in the project. Azerbaijan will be able to deliver Europe over 10 billion cubic meters of gas annually for at least 25 years. Eight billion of that will go to Italy and 1 billion to Greece and Bulgaria. The rest will be sold to neighboring markets, such as Albania, which has already signed a deal. The SGC represents a massive investment. The total cost with the inclusion of activating the extraction of gas from the deposit has been estimated to be $40 billion.
Several organizations participated in financing the project, including the World Bank, EBOR and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Three pipelines for one corridor The corridor is comprised of three pipelines which run through countries that have vast cultural and political conditions, and which are often hostile to one another, such as Greece, Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. The South Caucasus Pipeline (SCP), through which the gas travels for 691 kilometers from Azerbaijan (the Shah Deniz deposit) reaches Georgia and Turkey. The second part — the Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline (TANAP), which is 1850 kilometers long — runs from the Georgian-Turkish border through Turkey and to the border with Greece. From there, through the third pipeline – the Trans-Adriatic pipeline (878 kilometers long), gas runs from the Turkish-Greek border through Greece (550 kilometers), Albania and under the Adriatic Sea to Italy.
The project’s construction began in 2015. The main investor was a company established by the Azerbaijan ministry of energy and the state gas operator Socar. The three pipelines realized consortia not only with Socar, BP or Turkish Botas’s participation, but also other companies like Italian Snam, Belgian Fluxys, Spanisz Enagas or Swiss Axpo. Title image: Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, touches a pipe as he attends the opening ceremony of Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP), a key pipeline that will is part of a wider Southern Gas Corridor, 2018, AP.