Our Analytics 5 november — 19:23

Ilham Aliyev's words delight European natural gas consumers (In the wake of President's speech)

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BY ELNUR MAMMADOV, ECONOMY SECTION

Speaking at the opening of the VIII Global Baku Forum 'The World after COVID-19,' President Ilham Aliyev voiced an idea that could not fail to please the public of the countries-consumers of Azerbaijani natural gas. And his words: 'In the states where we supply Azerbaijani "blue fuel," there is no gas price crisis and no one has frozen from the cold yet,' will certainly be in the headlines of the European media.

The head of state noted that for ten months of this year, Azerbaijan exported over 14 billion cubic metres of gas via the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC). In general, it is currently supplied to consumers in Georgia, Turkey, Italy, Bulgaria, Greece, but about half of the announced volume was received by consumers in Europe.

Ilham Aliyev said so: no one has frozen with Azerbaijani gas yet

The specific figures were clarified by the commercial director of TAP AG Maria Savova, according to whom the volume of Azerbaijani gas exported to Europe via the Trans-Adriatic gas pipeline from December 31, 2020 to the present day, amounted to about 6 billion cubic metres. Thus, the forecast of the International Energy Agency (IEA), according to which the Old World will receive about 8 billion cubic metres of Azerbaijani gas per year, will be confirmed by 100 per cent, which will enable consumers of these countries to comfortably endure the coming winter. And not only because the promised volumes are being strictly fulfilled. According to economists, this is the cheapest gas on the Southeast European market, which is confirmed by the consumers themselves.

For example, the price of Azerbaijani natural gas supplied to Bulgaria is four times (!) lower than the price of Russian gas. This was stated by Ivan Ivanov, Chairman of the Commission on Energy and Water Regulation of Bulgaria, who noted with regret that Bulgaria imports from Azerbaijan only 350 million cubic metres of gas from the agreed billion (the short supply of 'blue fuel' was caused by technical reasons beyond Azerbaijan's control).

Ivanov was also supported by the head of Bulgargaz Nikolay Pavlov, who noted that 'all the price advantages of Azerbaijani gas in comparison with the supplies of other exporters are in favour of consumers.'

Recently, Stefano Saglia, board member of the Italian Energy, Networks and Environment Regulatory Authority (ARERA), said that increased imports through the SGC would make Europe significantly less vulnerable to supply disruptions. According to him, the current gas crisis in Europe proves that the construction of the Trans-Adriatic gas pipeline was the right choice. Recall that we are talking about the very Italy, where opponents of the TAP for several years prevented the laying of the route because of two dozen olive trees. Today, the comfort of Italians in terms of natural gas supply can only be envied by their northern neighbours.

SGC will reduce the share of Russian gas

More convincing evidence of the price advantages of Azerbaijani gas in the European market is hardly needed. Incidentally, this is evidenced by the recent statement of the President of Moldova, Maia Sandu. At a time when natural gas prices on European markets rose to astronomical levels, Moldova could not come to an agreement with the Russian Gazprom and, finding itself in a difficult situation, turned to Romania, Poland, Germany and... Azerbaijan for help.

The popular magazine The Economist also draws attention to the fact that in a number of cases the SGC becomes a real alternative to gas supplies to Europe from Russia. The magazine, in particular, expresses the idea that the SGC project will help reduce the share of Russian gas in some countries, for example, in Bulgaria, where 33 per cent of demand can be met by supplies of 'blue fuel' from Azerbaijan.

In general, the gas crisis in Europe observed today has demonstrated to European officials the fundamental importance of diversifying routes and sources of natural gas supplies. Surely many of them regret that at one time they did practically nothing to implement the Azerbaijani initiative to build the Trans-Caspian pipeline.

However, the main thing at the moment is that the understanding of the importance of the SGC expansion is gradually increasing, through which gas from the giant Azerbaijani Shah Deniz field has been being pumped to Europe for almost a year.

It is to the recent Eurosceptics that Ilham Aliyev's reminder of the advantages of Azerbaijani gas, the sale of which is 100 per cent free of 'impurities' in the form of political components, is addressed.

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