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Gas Key to EU Ties with Azerbaijan

Development of a natural gas pipeline network from Azerbaijan is one of the most important aspects of bilateral ties, a European Union report said last week.

The European Union published a series of reports Wednesday on the neighborhood policy for Eastern European and Central Asian countries, some of which are former Soviet republics.

The report for Azerbaijan said the country's economy was stable and diverse in part because of growth outside of the energy sector, which nevertheless underpinned bilateral ties. Azerbaijan is rich in natural gas reserves, which the EU sees as a source of diversification for an energy sector dominated in large part by Russia.

"The commitment for the implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor continued to be of utmost importance for the EU-Azerbaijan dialogue," the country report read.

A series of pipelines are planned for delivery of natural gas from the Shah Deniz reserve basin in the Azeri waters of the Caspian Sea. Development of Shah Deniz is underway from a consortium led by British energy company BP.

BP's subsidiary in Azerbaijan said progress on gas developments meant to aid European energy security was ahead of schedule. More than 500 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year is slated for exports from Shah Deniz to the European market through a network of 2,100 miles of pipelines by late 2018.

Most of the Russian gas bound for the European market runs through the Soviet-era pipeline network in Ukraine, where lingering conflicts and economic rows with the Kremlin create risks to European energy sector.

In its report on Ukraine, the EU said the country had made key structural reforms, though economic weaknesses were a reflection of deep-rooted problems.

Source: UPI

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