Baku — Azerbaijan has started commercial natural gas supplies to Europe via the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), the energy ministry said on Thursday, beginning its push into the lucrative energy market dominated by Russia.
Russia controls 34% of Europe’s gas market and plans to raise gas exports to Europe, including Turkey, to 183 billion cubic metres (bcm) next year from the 171-172 bcm expected this year.
TAP is a part of the $40 billion Southern Gas Corridor, stretching 3,500 km from Azerbaijan to Europe and drawing from Azerbaijan’s giant Shah Deniz II field in the Caspian Sea.
The project has the backing of the European Commission as part of efforts to curb Europe’s dependence on Russian energy.
Azerbaijan aims to supply European gas markets with 10 bcm of gas a year, including 8 bcm to Italy and a combined 2 bcm to Greece and Bulgaria. It has already supplied gas to Turkey.
“The Southern Gas Corridor will strengthen the system of global energy security. It has connected the Caspian region to Europe,” the energy ministry said in a statement.
The TAP stakeholders are BP (20%), SOCAR (20%), Snam (20%), Fluxys (19%), Enagas (16%) and Axpo(5%).
The first phase of the Shah Deniz field began production in 2006, delivering more than 10 bcm a year of gas to Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.
The second phase started output in 2018, adding 16 bcm of gas production capacity at its peak to bring total capacity to 26 bcm of gas.
(Reporting by Nailia Bagirova; Writing by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by David Goodman)