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Azerbaijan, Türkiye Join Forces to Diversify Natural Gas Supplies to Nakhchivan with New Pipeline

By Ilham Karimli September 26, 2023

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President Ilham Aliyev and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Igdir-Nakhchivan Gas Pipeline, Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan, September 25, 2023 / President.Az

Azerbaijan and Türkiye have joined forces to accelerate efforts aimed at bolstering the energy security of Nakhchivan, an Azerbaijani exclave surrounded by Armenia, Iran, and Türkiye.

On Monday, President Ilham Aliyev and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan inaugurated a brand-new transboundary natural gas pipeline that will connect Nakhchivan with the Turkish far-eastern region of Igdir.

The Igdir-Nakhchivan Gas Pipeline is expected to significantly enhance Nakhchivan’s energy security, as President Aliyev stated during a joint press briefing with President Erdogan in Nakhchivan.

“According to the agreement signed with the Islamic Republic of Iran in 2005, the supply of gas from Iran to Nakhchivan was ensured as an exchange deal. The construction of the Igdir-Nakhchivan gas pipeline will create conditions for supplying natural gas to Nakhchivan through a second line,” he said.

The new pipeline will stretch from Igdir to the Sadarak district in Nakhchivan, covering a distance of 97.5 kilometers. The Azerbaijani and Turkish sections of the pipeline are 17.5 kilometers and 80 kilometers in length, respectively.

The initial throughput capacity of the Igdir-Nakhchivan Gas Pipeline is 2 million cubic meters of natural gas per day and 730 million cubic meters per year. This capacity will be sufficient to meet the entire demand for “blue energy” in Nakhchivan, which is estimated at around 400-500 million cubic meters per annum among its population of 500,000. The pipeline’s capacity can be more than doubled in the future.

“The Igdir-Nakhchivan gas pipeline project ... will further deepen our partnership with Azerbaijan in the field of energy and also contribute to European energy security,” President Erdogan said at the joint press briefing on Monday.

On December 15, 2020, Azerbaijan and Türkiye signed a memorandum of understanding for the pipeline’s construction in Ankara. Azerbaijan allocated funds from the state budget for the Igdir-Nakhchivan Gas Pipeline on February 10, 2022. The project was also listed as a priority in the “State Program for the Socio-economic Development of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic for 2023-2027,” adopted on June 5 of this year.

Nakhchivan became an exclave separated from the Azerbaijani mainland after the Soviet occupation of the South Caucasus region in 1920. Following the region’s incorporation, Soviet rulers made the decision to transfer some of Azerbaijan’s territories, including its historic region of Western Zangazur, which borders Nakhchivan, to the newly-created Armenian state. Armenia’s military aggression against Azerbaijan in the early 1990s exacerbated Nakhchivan’s isolation. Armenia closed all types of energy, electricity, and transport connections, including highways and railway links to Nakhchivan, leaving it without gas for 15 years. Currently, land connections with Nakhchivan are available through either Iran or Türkiye.

The government of Azerbaijan plans to restore direct connections between the country’s mainland and Nakhchivan via the Zangazur Corridor multi-modal transport route.

The construction of the Zangazur Corridor is one of the projects initiated by Azerbaijan following the 2020 war with Armenia. Article 9 of the trilateral agreement signed by Azerbaijan, Russia, and Armenia on November 10, 2020, to end the war stipulates the unblocking of all economic and transport links in the region. Armenia committed to ensuring the safety of transport links between the western regions of Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan to facilitate unrestricted movement of citizens, vehicles, and goods in both directions.