As one of the key players leading Europe’s energy diversification policy, Germany is optimistic about what the Southern Gas Corridor will do for a continent that imports more than half of its energy resources to meet ever-growing demand.
Thomas Bareiss, Germany’s state secretary at the Ministry of Economy and Energy, said sending Caspian gas to Europe via the corridor is an important contribution by Azerbaijan.
“For the first time in history, the [Southern Gas Corridor] will provide EU countries direct access to gas from the Caspian region,” Bareiss said, according to a report by Emerging Europe. “It also means that Azerbaijan’s role as a supplier of gas and a transit country for Europe will increase. Thus, entering a new market, Azerbaijan will benefit from it.”
Comprised of 28 countries and a total population of 512 million people, the European Union is considered to be one of the largest and most prolific markets for energy exporters, given the lack of domestic resources. Russia has dominated the continent’s natural gas market for decades, but a series of geopolitical events involving Russia over the years has caused European leaders to look towards other markets – the Caspian region being one of them.
Russia’s state-run gas conglomerate Gazprom exported around 202 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas to Europe in 2018, adding 7.5 bcm to the total amount of gas it supplied in 2017. Seventy-five percent of the overall gas imports of 11 member states of the European Union came from Russia in 2018. Germany was the largest buyer of Russian gas in 2018, with imports totaling to 58.5 bcm.
The corridor, which consists of three pipelines and measures 3,200 kilometers, connects Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz gas field ultimately to southern Italy. The South Caucasus Pipeline extends from Baku to the Georgian-Turkish border, where it connects to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline or TANAP. That segment runs the entire length of Turkey from east to west before the Trans Adriatic Pipeline picks up in Greece. The route of TAP then extends from Greece to Albania and finally to the Adriatic Sea shores of Italy.
The corridor can transport 16 bcm of gas, with six bcm going to Turkey and the rest to Europe. TANAP went online in June 2018 and has pumped 2.7 bcm of gas to Turkey to date. The entire corridor is expected to deliver the first batch of gas to Europe sometime next year.