The Balkans – crossroads of gas pipelines
Silviya Stoykova, Valentin Stamov
Natural gas pipeline development is indispensable for Europe as a whole and for SEE in particular. Such projects are designed to diversify the gas supply and delivery routes for Europe on the one hand, and reduce the dependence of the region on Russian gas, on the other. Russia is the dominant gas supplier for the entire continent, its gas representing 25% of gas imports in the EU alone. Apart from these major considerations, SEE could also benefit from developing alternative gas pipelines, which will result in an upgrade of the region's old and ineffective energy infrastructure.
In light of the ever-insufficient gas reserves in many countries, not only European states but also gas majors such as Iran and Russia might be forced to import Caspian gas. The Azerbaijani Shah Deniz gas field, located in the south Caspian Sea, could solve Europe's gas shortage problems. It is operated by the same-name consortium between UK oil and gas giant British Petroleum (BP), and the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan, SOCAR.
The consortium is currently developing the Shah Deniz Stage II project that is expected to yield about 25 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas per year. The project could help open the Southern Gas Corridor, an initiative of the European Commission. The goal of the Southern Gas Corridor is to provide gas supplies from the Caspian region and the Middle East to Europe and it consists of multiple energy projects, such as Nabucco West, Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) and South Stream.
Two major pipeline projects were pitching to secure gas supplies from the Caspian field – Nabucco West and TAP. They have offered to carry 10 bcm of gas annually to various central and southern European markets. The Shah Deniz consortium made a decision at the end of June 2013, preferring TAP over its rival Nabucco. However, this does not mean that the Nabucco West pipeline project is over. Both projects will be needed in the near future and Nabucco’s route is still to be discussed, according to European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger. The forthcoming opening of the Southern Gas Corridor is more important than the choice of a particular pipeline. Once the internal energy market is functional and efficient, the gas that has reached the European Union will be easily transported across the continent.
Gas pipeline projects in the SEE region
TAP – Greek–Turkish border to Western Europe
The approximately 870-km TAP will transfer natural gas from Azerbaijan, via Greece and Albania, across the Adriatic Sea to southern Italy and finally to Western Europe. It will connect with the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP)
The Shah Deniz consortium made a decision at the end of June 2013, preferring TAP over its rival Nabucco. However, this does not mean that the Nabucco West pipeline project is over. Both projects will be needed in the near future and Nabucco’s route is still to be discussed, according to European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger.
close to the Greek-Turkish border, at Kipoi. TAP's initial transportation capacity will be 10 bcm, but it might subsequently be raised to 20 bcm per year. The gas is projected to begin flowing in 2019.
Source: Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) AG