The Southern Gas Corridor pipeline is almost ready to start supplying Europe with natural gas from beneath the Caspian Sea. The three-segmented corridor’s middle section, known as the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), was linked to the westernmost segment, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), along the Turkish-Greek border on Wednesday.
TANAP, the largest of the three segments, was welded to TAP along the shores of the River Maritsa that traverses the border between Turkey and Greece. The joining of the two segments, dubbed the “golden welding” by Turkish officials, is expected to herald in a new chapter in European energy security and diversification thanks to the Caspian region, namely Azerbaijan.
Ibrahim Ahmadov, a spokesperson for Azerbaijan’s national oil conglomerate SOCAR, confirmed the connection of the pipelines. "The pipelines have been welded today, final work is underway,” Ahmadov told the BBC on Tuesday.
Europe will start receiving about 10 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas per year beginning in 2020. Only Azerbaijan’s gas reserves are planned to feed into the corridor, but there is talk that Turkmenistan could also contribute at some point in the future.
The corridor stretches 3,206 kilometers (1,992 miles) through Azerbaijan, Georgia, into Turkey; then onto Greece, Albania and finally Italy, through a series of overland and underwater pipes.
Development of Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz 2 field in the Caspian Sea, the sole supplier to the corridor, will increase the overall production capacity of Shah Deniz by 16 bcm per year, also churning out 105,000 barrels of condensate per day. Shah Deniz currently pumps out 10.9 bcm of gas per year and up to 50 thousand barrels of condensate per day.
TANAP opened in June, allowing Turkey to begin receiving six bcm per year, which is being supplied by the Shah Deniz field in addition to the 10 bcm per year that will reach Italy in 2020.
The 215-kilometer onshore part of TAP that traverses Albania was completed in September and the construction of the 37-kilometer underwater portion of the segment beneath the Adriatic Sea are underway. TAP also stretches 550 kilometers through Greece at its easternmost end, and eight kilometers into Italy at its westernmost end.
The European Investment Bank set aside €1.5 billion ($1.7 billion) to construct TAP; the amount represents the largest financial assistance for an energy project in the bank’s history. The overall estimated cost of TAP is around €4.5 billion ($5.1 billion).
Demand for natural gas in Europe reached a record high in 2017, according to statistics provided by the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. Thirty-one countries on the continent consumed 548 bcm of natural gas last year, which is 76 bcm more than in 2014. Turkey, which depends heavily on energy imports, showed the biggest growth, from 46.5 bcm to 53.6 bcm.