By Nigar Abbasova
The recent comment of Deputy CEO of Russia’s Gazprom Alexander Medvedev about the possibility of using the Trans Adriatic Pipeline to export gas to Europe has aroused a number of questions.
One of the key issues is whether the Russian oil major may be a competitor for Azerbaijan’s state energy giant SOCAR in terms of gas deliveries to Europe.
A source in SOCAR, commenting on the issue, told Reuters that Gazprom is not a rival of Azerbaijan’s energy company in terms of gas supplies by means of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).
"Gazprom is not SOCAR's rival in TAP. Half of the pipeline capacity would be reserved for Azerbaijani gas,” he said.
TAP is a part of the ambitious Southern Gas Corridor which is one of the priority energy projects for the EU. The project envisages transportation of gas from the Stage 2 of development of Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz gas and condensate field to the EU countries. T
he pipeline will be connected to the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) on the Turkish-Greek border, run through Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea, before coming ashore in Italy's south. The project is currently in its construction phase, which started in 2016.
Medvedev earlier said that Gazprom was discussing the possibility of using Poseidon (the offshore section of the Interconnector Turkey-Greece-Italy (ITGI)) and TAP to export gas to Europe. He added that Russia has sufficient capacity to deliver more than 100 bcm of extra gas to Europe, mentioning that the main obstacle is infrastructure problem.
Commenting on the issue, TAP Head of Communications Lisa Givert said that the consortium is fully committed to transporting Shah Deniz phase II volumes – initially 10 bcm of gas per year – from the Caspian Sea through Greece, Albania and into Italy.
Moscow seeks to be the one that fills TAP pipeline capacity, but experts say that Russian hopes to use the TAP go counter to the purpose of the project to diversify European gas imports routes. EU sources also said that Russian gas flows via TAP may jar with the terms set by its financial backers, such as the European Investment Bank.
"We see the Southern Gas Corridor foremost as a major source of diversification: new gas, new route, new supplier," European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic told Reuters.