Azerbaijan makes a substantial contribution to European energy security strategy, Chris Pincher, MP for Tamworth, sent an article - TAPping up Azerbaijan - to The European Azerbaijan Society as an answer to the questions from the society on Azerbaijan's role in EU's energy security, Trend reported.
The article said: "Most of us are in no doubt that there are few parts of the world that do not have hydrocarbon deposits of one sort or another. As Chairman of the Azerbaijan All-Party Group, I am also well aware that that particular nation has more than its fair share of onshore and offshore oil and gas".
Chris Pincher stressed that Azerbaijan's energy heritage goes back to the middle of the 19th century: "Most people assume that the oil industry was born in Texas in the 1850s, but in reality the first onshore oil well was drilled near Baku in 1846. At the turn of the 20th Century, Azerbaijan was producing over half of the world's oil and Baku boasted its own set of Victorian JR Ewings!"
The author stressed in the article that today, oil and gas behemoths such as Saudi Arabia, Russia and even Kazakhstan have far greater reserves. Yet Azerbaijan remains crucially important to Europe, and most especially to the United Kingdom, for a number of reasons:
"Firstly, Azerbaijan makes a substantial contribution to European energy security strategy. Western Europe's heavy dependency on one major supplier - Russia - is neither healthy nor sustainable, and Azerbaijan represents a substantial alternative source to the petro-czars further north".
According to Pincher, Secondly, Azerbaijan is willing and able to organise and fund pipeline networks which channel oil and gas to Western Europe. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline (BTC), which opened in July 2006, exports oil from Azerbaijan, and up to 600,000 barrels a day from Kazakhstan, along a one thousand mile route from Baku to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan and onto Europe. The Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum pipeline (BTE) transports natural gas from the Shah Deniz gas field in the Caspian Sea to Turkey.
As resources from the Shah Deniz II field come on stream, gas will be pumped along the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) to the recently-confirmed Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) through Greece in to Italy. From there it can be pumped onwards to other western European destinations. Together, this network of pipelines forms the Southern Corridor, which the European Union has been so anxious to build to reduce dependence on Russian gas. In time, gas from other countries in the Caspian Sea basin - and even from Kurdistan in Northern Iraq - could be pumped via Azerbaijan to western European destinations. In addition to being a producer, Azerbaijan is set to become the leading transit hub for gas from across Central Asia.
The author said in the article: "But whereas one country was responsible for all of these initiatives, one company above all others makes a reality of Azerbaijan's ambitions. From the signing of the 'Contract of the Century' in 1994, BP has driven the development of Azerbaijan's major offshore oil and gas fields. It is instrumental in the coalition of consortiums that built the pipelines bringing these hydrocarbons to market. Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of UK, was closely involved in making the original contract work, and she was present at the official signing. She was justifiably proud of the role which a British company played in helping one small country achieve its ambitions, to the benefit of all concerned, especially to the wider development of Azerbaijan. The British-Azerbaijani relationship is a strong one, and one which should be nurtured, on a business to business and a government to government level".