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Azerbaijan’s “Hot” Investments in Europe

Azerbaijan's state energy giant is looking to invest in the EU's economy, while helping Europe keep warm in the future.

SOCAR is interested in new investments in the economy of the European Union, said Elshad Nasirov, SOCAR vice president, at a meeting devoted to discussion of the project "Southern Gas Corridor" in Brussels.

SOCAR annually invests billions of dollars in transport infrastructure and is involved in key projects designed to increase Europe's energy security.

Nevertheless, Nasirov urged the EU to provide strategic support to non-European investors. "Despite the fact that volumes of Azerbaijani gas to Europe are small, but its supply can solve the problem with gas supply in consumer countries," he added.

Europe's attitude towards the former Soviet country Azerbaijan has always been somewhat biased despite all its statements highlighting the importance of Azerbaijani gas supplies. But, eventually everyone has recognized that Azerbaijan, and the supplies from the other Caspian Sea states (by transit via Azerbaijan) at least will not allow Europe to freeze.

Following Moscow's halt of the $45 billion South Stream project Eastern European states began searching for alternatives, and "found" Azerbaijan as the most reliable partner. Because deals with Iraq, Turkmenistan and Iran are not likely for Europe in the near future, the focus is currently on pumping Azerbaijani gas.

The prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland have recently met to discuss energy security after Russia on December 1 backed out of the South Stream pipeline following European Union objections on legal grounds.

The region's leaders defined a list of alternatives that includes a plan to access the Caspian gas through Azerbaijan. Europe once again kept the focus on the Southern Corridor Gas, a series of pipelines that would pump Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz gas to Europe.

The Southern Corridor looks most promising, especially after planned projects like Nabucco and South Stream lost their credibility. The project is realistic and can be executed in time as all the supply and construction issues solved.

The 3,500-kilometer South Gas Corridor that would finally end Europe's dependence on a single pipeline started with the go-ahead to the South Caucasus Pipeline Expansion, which will connect the Sangachal terminal with eastern Turkey through Georgia. It will link up with the SOCAR-led TANAP to be connected with a third pipeline TAP on the Turkish-Greek border.

TANAP construction is due to be completed in 2018 and TAP in 2020 with first gas deliveries to Europe planned in the same year. The cost of the work on all four elements of the Southern Gas Corridor was estimated at almost $48 billion, according to the preliminary data.

The European gas industry says the EU's gas demand is expected to rise to 625 mtoe by 2030, an increase of 43 percent compared to today's consumption levels. Europe's import dependence has increased in the last two decades and is set to grow to more than 80 percent in the case of oil and gas by 2035.

Source: AzerNews

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