On February 28, the 6th Ministerial Meeting of the Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council was held at the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku. President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev attended the meeting.

The event was attended by the ministers of Energy of Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Italy, Greece, Romania, Turkmenistan, Croatia, Montenegro and Hungary, UK and USA, deputy ministers and representatives of various state bodies, including Deputy Director-General (Energy) of the European Commission Klaus-Dieter Borchardt. BP, SGC, BOTAŞ, TPAO, TANAP, TAP, SNAM, Fluxys, ICGB AD, Transgaz, SNGN Romgaz SA, UNIPER Global, Bulgargaz EAD, SACE, Plinacro, as well as international financial institutions such as World Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, European Investment Bank were among the participants of the event.

First, the participants of meeting had their photograph taken together. On behalf of the participants of the meeting, Azerbaijani Energy Minister Parviz Shahbazov thanked President Ilham Aliyev for his continued support to the Southern Gas Corridor project. He noted that the Advisory Council established on the initiative of the head of state made an important contribution to the implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor project as a format of effective and multilateral cooperation based on his leadership and recommendations: “The issues raised by you at the meetings of the Advisory Council, your clear strategic vision and resolute position continued to be the main factors in our coordinated work to finish the Southern Gas Corridor by late 2020".

Then Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev made a speech. He welcomed the high-level representatives of the countries participating in the sixth Ministerial Meeting of the Advisory Council within the Southern Gas Corridor and thanked for their participation in the event. The head of state said that Azerbaijan, initiating this format of cooperation, is very proud that over the years the Advisory Council has become a very efficient working mechanism, which has strengthened all efforts to implement the giant Southern Gas Corridor project. “We are grateful to all our partners, first of all, to the members of the Southern Gas Corridor - Georgia, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Albania and Italy. These countries are very close to Azerbaijan, and I remember my numerous meetings with the heads of state and government of these countries. Only in two months of this year my meetings with the heads of state and government of Turkey, Italy and Georgia demonstrate our close cooperation. Three days ago, the president of Turkey was our guest. We discussed what we have achieved from this point of view and the plans for the future. A week ago, during my meetings with the President and Prime Minister of Italy during my state visit to Italy, we discussed this important project. My meeting with the Prime Minister of Georgia at the end of January allowed us to consider achievements and plan our future steps. I believe that this unique composition of the member states of the Southern Gas Corridor project demonstrates that the common goal can unite the countries. I am sure that after the completion of the Southern Gas Corridor project, our multilateral cooperation will continue in other areas.”

Ilham Aliyev thanked the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States of America for their continued support to the projects initiated by Azerbaijan. Recalling the 1990s, he noted that Azerbaijan declared its oil and gas potential open to foreign investors. Azerbaijan was the first country in the Caspian region to allow foreign companies to invest and conduct oil operations in the Caspian Sea. Over the past 25 years, the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom have made great contributions to the implementation of major projects such as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline and the Southern Gas Corridor within the close cooperation with Azerbaijan.

The head of State also thanked the European Commission and said that in 2011, the European Commission and Azerbaijan signed a joint declaration on the Southern Gas Corridor project in Baku, which is in fact the initial stage of the implementation of this project: “In that declaration, we have clearly stated that this is a strategic project and we will not refrain to make efforts to implement the project. I want to express my personal gratitude to the former president of the European Commission, Mr. Barroso, for signing this document in Baku in 2011. He visited Azerbaijan twice. I would also like to thank the former president of the Council of the European Union, Mr. Tusk, who visited Azerbaijan twice and last visited in last July and played a very important role in strengthening energy cooperation between the European Union and Azerbaijan. I also would like to note that we are very grateful to the former commissioner of the European Commission, Mr. Ottinger. He was the first commissioner of the European Union who was closely involved in the implementation of this project. I would also like to mentione vice-president Shevchovich, who is now working as vice-president, but has been involved in other sectors. However, when working on the Southern Gas Corridor, he was always with us at annual meetings, and our cooperation led to concrete results.”  Ilham Aliyev also highly appreciated the support of international financial institutions - the World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Asian Development Bank, European Investment Bank and other banks that helped to implement this project. “We have identified a very unique format of cooperation. Of course, Azerbaijan launched this initiative as an initiator, investor and host of the project. This initiative was supported by our neighbors Turkey and Georgia. We have previously implemented important projects on the transport and infrastructure of energy resources with these countries. Then, this initiative was supported by new partners, three of which are members of the European Union - Italy, Greece and Bulgaria - as well as Albania. Then new and potential partners - Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro, the countries in which we signed the memorandum of understanding joined this initiative. Also today at this table we see representatives of Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Turkmenistan, and their participation demonstrates their interest in this project. I believe that in the coming years we will strengthen our cooperation and, possibly, establish a wider format of cooperation among all countries, and maybe even those countries that do not participate will join us in next February.”

The head of State invited the participants to Baku as a guest in next February: “I believe that the completion of TAP construction does not mean the end of our team work. I think that we should address many issues here - in Baku in next February. Then we will develop our strategy for the future. In last February we reported on the successful completion of the TANAP  reaching the Turkish market in June 2018. This time, we are proud to announce the completion of TANAP, which has already reached the Turkish-Greek border. This is a very important stage in the implementation of our mega project. Today, when the completion of the Southern Gas Corridor project is very high and, as you may know, almost 92 per cent of TAP project is completed, I hope that by the end of this year we will mark the opening of the Southern Gas Corridor project”.

The head of state stressed that looking back on the concrete results of all the efforts, it was impossible to imagine what challenges Azerbaijan had before the beginning of the years of independence, such a great success will be achieved in less than 30 years together with the international partners and Azerbaijan initiated projects on a global scale, which grab the interest of the countries of the world and would implement them successfully with its partners. Each of these projects - Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum, Azeri-Chirag-Deepwater Gunashli, Shah Deniz, other upstream projects, the Southern Gas Corridor, as well as the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars transport project are of strategic importance. Each of them will ensure sustainable, successful and, for sure, prosperous development for our country and people, and for all countries participating in this project.

Recalling the political situation prevailing in Azerbaijan in the 1990s, Ilham Aliyev noted that after the election of Heydar Aliyev in October 1993, Azerbaijan entered the path of stability, development and promotion. He stated that one of the main ways to build a state at that time was the creation of a strong economy, which was impossible without foreign investment. Therefore, it was clear to attract foreign companies to invest, but where to invest? "The only area of interest for foreign companies was the oil sector. However, Azerbaijan was considered a very risky country, where representatives of foreign companies felt very uncomfortable, they did not even have the appropriate hotels they could stay in. Of course, in this case, attracting investments was not an easy task. However, we were able to do this, and in September 1994, the contract on Azeri-Chirag-Deepwater Gunashli fields was signed by the consortium of Azerbaijani and foreign companies. This was the beginning of our path towards progress, prosperity and development.”

The president noted that the oil factor played a decisive role in the modern history of Azerbaijan. In the past, when Azerbaijan was not independent, oil was extracted for the first time and the world's first well was drilled in Baku. More than 1 billion tons of oil were produced during the period when Azerbaijan was not independent. “If Azerbaijan was independent at that time, we could be one of the richest and prosperous countries in the world today. However, these natural resources did not serve the interests of the Azerbaijani people. It happened only after we became independent”. The head of state said that the signing of the “Contract of the Century” in 1994 was not just a commercial project. “It was a survival project for us. It was a project for us to strengthen our statehood, economy, ensure the better life of our people. All this happened. In our example, oil was not a curse. Oil was one of the most important means to succeed, build a strong country, provide the people with proper life conditions, stability, security, live in harmony with our neighbors.” It was noted that the Shah Deniz agreement was signed in 1996. At that time, gas was not a very important factor in the energy security of countries. Therefore, the signing of the Shah Deniz agreement was not as important as the signing of the Azeri-Chirag-Deepwater Gunashli contract in 1994. However, it was a wise step to do it on time. Then, the first oil was extracted in the territory specified in the contract in 1997. "In this respect, I think it was also a record. As usually the time between the signing of a contract with foreign investors and the extraction of the first hydrocarbon reserves is more than 3 years. It has allowed us to start investing in other sectors of the economy. In 2002, the decision on the construction of the main oil pipeline was already executed. As the practical construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline had already begun. Before that, two pipelines supplying our oil to the ports of Russia, Georgia and the Black Sea - Baku-Novorossiysk and Baku–Supsa had already put into operation. Therefore, the opening of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan in 2006 was another stage in the development of our country. As after that we began to earn revenues, invest in infrastructure and human resources. In 2007, Azerbaijan became an international gas exporter for the first time, and the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline was launched. We believe that most of our plans was successfully implemented. However, we had new challenges in front of us. We had to start the full-scale development of the Shah Deniz and Shah Deniz-2 projects. Without the main gas pipeline system, it was impossible. Therefore, the consortium was waiting for us to agree with partners and make a final investment decision, and we achieved it. In 2012, Azerbaijan and Turkey signed an agreement on the construction of the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline - TANAP. As I said before, in 2011 we signed a joint declaration with the European Commission. After that, the international consortium made a final investment decision on “Shah Deniz-2" and the successful construction began practically. In 2018, we inaugurated the opening of the Southern Gas Corridor in Baku - Sangachal Terminal, and in June gas was delivered to the Turkish market through TANAP. As I already mentioned, TANAP reached the European borders in the last November. TAP's implementation has already been completed by 92 per cent. So, this is the success story of all of us.”

The head of state underlined the important role of the Advisory Council in the implementation of this project. He stated that numerous meetings and consultations are held every year and important decisions are made to move the project forward. During this period, Azerbaijan has become not only a supplier, but also a reliable transit country. “Countries located on the eastern shores of the Caspian Sea transport their hydrocarbon resources to international markets through the territory of Azerbaijan. Also, the oil extracted by Russian companies from the Caspian Sea sector of this country is transported to international markets through our system - Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan. So, we have already become a transit country. I am sure that our role as a transit country will increase.” Ilham Aliyev noted that Azerbaijan, as a transit country, stimulates the rapid development of the transport sector and that this sector will help to strengthen our positions as a Eurasian transport hub. Talking about the largest fleet of Azerbaijan in the Caspian Sea, the Heydar Aliyev International Airport, which was awarded with 5 stars, the modern railway system, the head of State noted that according to the assessment of the Davos World Economic Forum, Azerbaijan ranks 12th in the world for the efficiency of Railways, 11th place for the efficiency of airways, 27th for the quality of roads and 34th for the quality of infrastructure.

Ilham Aliyev noted that Azerbaijan is the only country that is involved and actively invests in the establishment of East-West, North-South transport corridors. “Today we are talking about the North-West transport corridor passing through our country and the South-West transport corridor that has not yet been put into operation but has the potential. I would also like to say that “Azeri-Chirag-Deepwater-Gunashli” and “Shah Deniz” are not the only great wealth of Azerbaijan. Nevertheless, they are really a great asset. As the fact that Azerbaijan and BP signed an agreement on the extension of the contract from 2024 to 2050 shows that the potential of Azeri-Chirag-Deepwater-Gunashli is really great. If earlier we had estimated the oil potential of the field by 500 million tons, now it is more than 1 billion tons. I am sure that new technologies will allow us to extract more oil”.

The head of state stated that the country's verified gas reserves are 2.6 trillion cubic meters. The projected volume is about 3 trillion cubic meters. Therefore, Azerbaijan will be a reliable supplier of hydrocarbon resources for more than 100 years. “Today, we are working with our traditional partners - BP, which manages the Shah Deniz, Azeri-Chirag-Depwater-Gunashli consortiums and is our strategic partner-on a project called "D 2030“. This came into force in 2018. Together with BP, we are working on the "Shafag - Asiman" gas field, and the first well must be drilled very soon. We are working with BP on a project called “Shallow Water". This project has great potential in terms of undiscovered deposits, because it is located very close to the shore and our traditional extraction was performed at sea. Next year, we will start gas production from the Absheron field, which has a gas potential of 300 billion cubic meters. SOCAR is actively engaged in the development of Umid-Babek field. At present, the daily production of Umid field is 3 million cubic meters of gas. The potential of this deposit is more than 200 billion cubic meters. Together with Equinor, we are working on the Karabakh field. According to my information, the exploration well must be drilled very soon. Thus, all this is an indicator of the future potential of Azerbaijan. Moreover, Azeri-Chirag-Depwater-Gunashli has a large volume of deep gas fields, and negotiations between SOCAR and BP in this direction are very successful. I hope that we will be able to reach an agreement soon. Thus, all this will contribute to the achievement of our strategic goals, which include the expansion of our participation in international markets, export of our hydrocarbon reserves by diversification methods and providing better conditions for our people. This is our goal, which entails strengthening our statehood.”

The head of state noted that our main goal was to turn oil - “black gold” into human resources. “The fact that the poverty level in Azerbaijan has fallen from about 50 to 4.8 per cent in the last 16 years shows that economic development and oil and gas projects helped people to live better. During this period, our economy has grown by 3.4 times. This is a world record. Over the past 16 years, our foreign trade has increased by 6.4 times. Our direct external debt accounts for only 17 percent of the gross domestic product. Our freely convertible currency reserves outnumber foreign debt by 6 times. In other words, we can pay off the external debt at any time.”

The head of state noted that the World Bank considers Azerbaijan one of the 20 most reformist countries in its Doing Business Report. “In January Azerbaijan and the Davos World Economic Forum signed a protocol of intent to establish the Fourth Industrial Revolution Center in Baku. It is a regional center that will cover the Caucasus and Central Asia. Azerbaijan was elected because our industry - non-oil industry are developing rapidly. Only in the last year the development in the non-oil industry was about 14-15 per cent. This year, we hope that growth will be higher or at the same level".

Speaking about oil and gas projects, the president of Azerbaijan also stressed the importance of energy security. He stated that Azerbaijan is a country that provides energy security for itself and its neighbours. "Diversification of energy resources is one of the most important issues. Here, of course, diversification of sources is the most important one. In our case, it's about the diversification of sources and routes. I also think that one of the main reasons for our success is the balance of interests - the balance between producers, transit countries and consumers. I am sure that this format of positive cooperation between us will continue.”

Azerbaijani Energy Minister Parviz Shahbazov thanked President Ilham Aliyev for his detailed and meaningful speech on behalf of the members of the Advisory Council, and gave the floor to the European Commission representative, Deputy Director-General (Energy) of the European Commission Klaus-Dieter Borchardt.

The representative of the European Commission, Klaus-Dieter Borchardt stated that speaking on behalf of the European Union at the sixth Ministerial Meeting within the Advisory Council was a great honour and pleasure. He stressed that this meeting of the Advisory Council was a completely special meeting. “You can see from the information given by President Aliyev regarding the major stages of the Southern Gas Corridor that all this started in 2011. We are just now in 2020, and it is absolutely incredible to achieve it. I think that the simple fact of delivery of gas extracted from the Shah Deniz-2 field  to the European Union - Italy  by the end of the year will be a fantastic achievement for all of us. As President Aliyev has just mentioned, this project is, for sure, of vital importance for the European Union. This is because it strengthens our energy security, is also part of our diversification strategy, is a new source, and, more important, is also a new route to the European market.”

Klaus-Dieter Borchardt thanked President Aliyev and his supporters – Turkey, Georgia, Albania, Greece, Italy and Bulgaria for the management and leadership shown in these projects over the years.  He noted that without the views and concrete efforts of each party on this project, this project would never have been implemented. He also highly appreciated the support of the United States of America to this project and thanked the companies working on it.

Klaus-Dieter drew attention to the expansion of the Southern Gas Corridor. He stated that this was a wonderful project that could not be used for just 10 billion cubic meters. “So the first question is: do we have any new directions? Yes, we have new directions. There are Western Balkan countries. We have the representatives from some of them here. Other European countries - Hungary, Romania - are interested and others will. So the direction is clear and there is an opportunity. The question arises: where to get gas from? At this point, President Aliyev, what you have said about the latest discoveries are very promising. If all this is done, then I think that we will already have a very good opportunity to expand the Southern Gas Corridor from 10 billion to 20 billion cubic meters and more, because this corridor already has the opportunity and the technical capacity.”

Klaus-Dieter spoke about the development of a new green pact for Europe. He noted that the European Green Pact does not contradict the development or even expansion of the Southern Gas Corridor. The European Green Pact contains gas as one of the main components of the future energy system. “You can develop a neutral emission economy only in such a case that you can base it on a serious assessment of the impact to ensure the economic efficiency of the transition. The observations and analyses we have carried out so far clearly show that this transition should performed out with the inclusion of gas. For a while it will be the gas that we know the best – the Natural Gas. However, in the longer term, this natural gas should also become neutral emission gas. It must be without the hydrocarbon. This is a challenge that all of us may face – those who are interested in maintaining gas as one of the components of our future energy system and those who really want to comply with the obligations of the European Union under the Paris Agreement. The European Union is open for cooperation in this sense. We do not want to implement the European Green Pact in isolation from the world countries. We look forward to future cooperation in the field of technology development required to decarbonize natural gas in the long term and to turn it into a part of the solution that consists of the fight against climate change".

Dr. Borchardt also noted that future cooperation with the Southern Gas Corridor was vital to ensure that the Southern Gas Corridor would remain a project that everyone would be proud of.

Then the meeting was followed by plenary sessions.

Azerbaijani Energy Minister Parviz Shahbazov stated that the current meeting of the ministers on the Southern Gas Corridor, which was a global energy security project, would take place in the year when the activity in the Advisory Council, which was considered as a unique format of international cooperation, would reach its goal. He noted that the Southern Gas Corridor would be completed in 2020. He expressed his gratitude to the high-level government officials of the Southern Gas Corridor supporters, representatives of the Balkan countries - Montenegro and Croatia, who intended to join the project in the second phase of the corridor, and representatives of the governments of Turkmenistan, Serbia, Romania and Hungary, who demonstrated their interest and great importance in the project by participating in the meetings of the Advisory Council.

The minister stressed the role of the European Commission, which had been closely cooperating with Azerbaijan at all stages of development of the Southern Gas Corridor idea since 2011, providing all necessary support to the project and carrying out the co-ordination mission to the Advisory Council: “the US and UK governments have provided a sound and sustainable support not only to the Southern Gas, but all the projects regarding the energy security initiated by Azerbaijan within more than 25 years. Our close partnership that is strengthened by the energy helps us to achieve our goals. Of course, today's success on the project would not have been possible without the effective activities of “Shah Deniz”, TANAP and TAP member companies and financial institutions".

Speaking at the first session, where reports on the work done in all segments of the Southern Gas Corridor were heard, BP regional president for Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey Gary Jones stated that the support, cooperation and reconciliation of 7 countries and governments, the European Union, United States, many relevant international organizations, our partners in 4 countries and 11 buyers were required for the implementation of this project: "I would like to particularly note that President Ilham Aliyev's personal involvement and support has been a major factor in the successful implementation of Shah Deniz-2 project. This project is rightly considered one of the largest and most complex projects ever in the oil and gas industry in the world".

He noted that the Southern Gas Corridor project is on a huge scale in general in all aspects, including in terms of physical dimensions, affordability and complexity of the deposits. I believe that many people did not expect this project to be successful but a great progress has been achieved so far – this work has been completed safely ahead of schedule and within the budget. Great progress has been made in the project so far. The parts of the Southern Gas Corridor that are managed by BP - the most activities on Shah Deniz-2 and the extended South Caucasus Pipeline projects have already been completed while some are still in progress and will continue over the next few years.

G.Jones stated that Shah Deniz was a world-class hydrocarbon field with more than 30 trillion cubic feet of geological gas reserves located in numerous high-quality layers. A complete development of the deposit, i.e. the Shah Deniz-2 project, as well as other offshore and onshore facilities, has already been completed. "Shah Deniz-2" exports through two gas export lines and one condensate line. So far, the Shah Deniz-2 Well Program has made excellent progress, and now the work schedule is 2 years ahead. In general, 17 wells have been drilled out of 26 wells and 16 have been completed in the field. All eight wells in the north and west flanks of the field have been successfully commissioned and completed the plan in the first year of the Shah Deniz Bravo production. Gas supply to Turkey began on June 30, 2018 according to the schedule. The world-class Caspian fleet provided high-level support for the implementation of the plan. The work on drilling and completion of the Shah Deniz-2 wells will continue until 2025, the next one to be commissioned will be the east-south flank (2021), followed by the west-south and east-north flanks (both in 2022). At present, all the extended South Caucasus pipeline installations have already been fully completed and are operational.

BP's regional president stated that all parties involved in the project should be proud of the safe, reliable and efficient implementation of a project of this scale and complexity: “Such a giant project has developed according to the plan and within the envisaged budget, and we, as planned, continue the work to deliver the first gas to Europe by the end of the current year according to the schedule. The project is also unique for this region, as for the first time the Southern Gas Corridor will connect the Caspian region directly to European markets. In addition to providing energy diversity, this project will contribute to the efforts for the transition to a cleaner world with less carbon footprints.”

TANAP Director General Saltuk Duzyol stated that the main segment of the Southern Gas Corridor, TANAP, was transporting Azerbaijani natural gas to Turkey. At the next stage, the pipeline will deliver Azerbaijani gas from the Caspian Sea to European consumers. TANAP is an 1850-km pipeline that runs through 20 cities, 67 settlements and 600 villages along the territory of our brother country starting from Posof settlement of Ardahan province of Turkey and reaching Europe in Ipsala settlement of Edirne. TANAP, which supplies Azerbaijani gas to Turkey and Europe, has joined the South Caucasus Pipeline on the Turkish-Georgian border and the TAP gas pipeline on the Turkish-Greek border. The length of the Georgian-Turkish border-Eskisehir part of TANAP is 1350 km, and the length of the part running along the Eskisehir-Turkey-Greece border is 480 km.

He stressed that the TANAP project envisages the transportation of natural gas extracted from the Shah Deniz-2 field and other areas of the Caspian Sea to Turkey and Europe. The diameter of the dry part of the pipeline is 56 and 48 inches, and along the Sea of Marmara is 36 inches. The maximum height of the belt above sea level is 2700 meters. Two arms have been allocated to the Turkish gas distribution system from TANAP, and its maximum annual transmission capacity is 31 billion cubic meters. At the initial stage of the project, the annual transmission capacity will be 16 billion cubic meters of gas.

TANAP, which is called the "Silk Road of Energy", plays an important role for the energy security of the region and Europe. The first phase of the pipeline was commissioned in Eskisehir, Turkey on June 12 last year. According to the plan, the transport of the first gas volumes to Turkey began on June 30 of the same year. On November 30 last year, the opening ceremony of the TANAP gas pipeline connecting Europe was held in Ipsala settlement of Edirne province of Turkey. More than 4 billion cubic meters of Azerbaijani natural gas have been transported to Turkey by TANAP", said S.Duzyol.

He noted that TANAP project, which is one of the most important fruits of long-term strategic energy cooperation between Azerbaijan and Turkey had already been completed. After the completion of the TAP pipeline project, which is the last segment of the Southern Gas Corridor Azerbaijan's natural gas produced within the Shah Deniz-2 project will be transported to Europe via TANAP and TAP pipelines.

TAP Executive Officer Luca Schieppati noted that 92 percent of the work on the TAP pipeline project, which would transport Azerbaijani natural gas to Europe had been completed. The pipeline is currently under construction. Every day hundreds of meters of land are cleaned, pipes are laid along the Route line, welded, lowered into the ditch and the soil cover is restored within the TAP construction. In the dry part of the TAP, in the route to Greece, Albania and Italy, the all pipes have been buried. 99 percent of the pipes in the three countries has been laid and welded along the route line. In addition, 99 percent of the pipeline route the land cover has been recovered. Within the TAP's initial project, which has a capacity of 10 billion cubic meters per year the construction of two compressors, one being in Cyprus (Greece) and the other one in Niger (Albania), has been completed. Along with the compressor stations, the construction of the metering station near the Bilisht region in the east of Albania has also been completed. 80 per cent of the construction work of the gas terminal in Italy has been completed. As part of the construction of TAP, Castoro 6 pipelay vessel of Saipem has started operating in San Foca, Italy.

It was noted that in November of last year, gas supplies were launched for testing in the Greek part of TAP. In the coming months, in Albania and Italy they will start filling the pipes with gas. Commercial gas transportation via TAP is expected in October 2020, when the part to Italy will be fully operational and tested.

"The construction of a 1.5-kilometer micro tunnel in Melendugno, Italy has been completed without any impact to or interference with tourist activities and the coastal environment. Work is underway to complete the construction of the Italian part of the pipeline and the receiving terminal. Also, in about 8 km of TAP that will pass through Italy the pipes are lowered into the ditch”, he added.

It was noted that the construction of sea pipes in the Albanian waters had already been completed. The sea part of the pipeline will connect the coasts of Albania and Italy, and its length will be 105 kilometers. In the Adriatic Sea, 37 km of pipes will be laid in Albania, 25 km in Italy and 43 km in international waters. The pipeline will pass through the part of the sea at a depth of more than 810 meters. TAP consortium has also launched market tests that will allow to express the interests of natural gas suppliers. The goal is to explore the possibilities of expanding TAP at a later stage.

During the session, Alessandra Pasini, director of international relations and business development of Snam, İtaly stated that the company has a 20 percent stake in the TAP project. He noted that “Snam" was expanding cooperation with Azerbaijan. So, it is planned to transport the renewable gas through the Southern Gas Corridor and TAP in the future. Snam also plans to build a 55-kilometer interconnector that connects TAP to the Snam Rete gas network in Italy.

Director of ICGB AD, which is the operator of the Interconnector Greece - Bulgaria (IGB), Teodora Georgieva, stated that the ICB was one of the 7 priority projects in the European Union to ensure energy market security and competitiveness. The project is of great importance for Bulgaria, and especially for South-Eastern Europe, where energy consumption depends on fossil fuels. One billion cubic meters of Azerbaijani gas will be transported to Bulgaria through the ICB.

At the second plenary session moderated by Energy Minister Parviz Shahbazov, the members of the Southern Gas Corridor countries interested in the project gave speeches.

The minister noted that the commissioning of the Southern Gas Corridor, which connected Europe and the Caspian region with major infrastructure, as well as energy security and Development Goals by 2020, was a history, and they were signing this historic achievement with their reliable partnership and strong cooperation. Three segments of the Southern Gas Corridor have already been successfully completed last year upon the completion of the part of TANAP reaching out to the Greek border. The status of implementation on the TAP gas pipeline also indicates that Shah Deniz gas will be delivered to Europe in the second half of 2020 through a new source - the Southern Gas Corridor.

He said: "since 1994, Azerbaijan's experience as an energy supplier confirms that the Caspian region, including Azerbaijan, is a stable and safe energy source for Europe. At the same time, the system of pipelines extending through Georgia and Turkey to Europe is a reliable and safe route. The South Caucasus Pipeline, TANAP and TAP are links connecting 7 countries, and the means of economic integration and redesign of the world's energy map. The initiative of Azerbaijan on the example of the Southern Gas Corridor and the development of this initiative through joint efforts, the continued support of our partners played an important role in turning the idea of diversification of supplies from a myth into a reality. Over the years, we have been able to take a joint and decisive step towards the strategic goals of Europe such as diversification of supplies, sources and routes, free trade and the establishment of a competitive gas market. This project is being implemented at a time when the position of natural gas as an energy resource is strengthened for many reasons, at the same time the long-term contracts on gas supply through the pipeline are renewed and the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG) is increased. The Southern Gas Corridor, which is a complete diversification project, will further enhance the security and competitiveness of supplies to the European gas market".

It was noted that the Southern Gas Corridor allowed producers, first of all, Azerbaijan to access new gas markets and develop this process constantly. For our country, whose gas production is growing every year, the Southern Gas Corridor initially aims to diversify markets, buyers and export routes. The Southern Gas Corridor also provides access of the Caspian Basin, Central Asia, as well as other countries willing to participate as suppliers to the European markets in the future. TAP gas pipeline is the main link that ensures full operation of the Southern Gas Corridor and delivery of gas to Europe. We welcome the implementation of TAP activities in Greece, Albania and Italy, in particular the position of the Italian government on the acceleration of the construction of the pipeline. The implementation of 92% the project is an indicator of the Italian government's support for the project.

“We believe that our joint efforts with the Italian government will ensure the timely completion of the strategically important TAP project to ensure European energy security. TAP will also provide the Italian consumers with safe, diversified and competitive energy. At the same time, it will contribute to the achievement of the decarbonization goal of Italy. TAP could provide wide perspectives for Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and a number of other European countries and bring new sources of supply to the region, linking the Southern Gas Corridor with the planned Interconnector of Greece-Bulgaria (IGB), Ionian-Adriatic Pipeline (IAP), as well as Romania-Bulgaria, BRUA (Bulgaria-Romania-Hungary-Austria).

Deputy Director-General (Energy) of the European Commission Klaus-Dieter Borchardt stated that the Southern Gas Corridor was a project that would contribute to the long-term and sustainable development goals of not only Azerbaijan, but also all the members currently represented in the project and any country that would be interested in introducing its energy resources into new markets. The full coverage of this global initiative of Azerbaijan without access to the open seas, which covers a large geography, with international support, is also an indication that the Southern Gas Corridor pursues a goal based on ensuring the interests of all parties and creating a mutually beneficial global cooperation environment. It is very important to complete TAP, thus also the Southern Gas Corridor, according to the schedule. In order to commission the project by the end of the year all parties have been mobilized and a model of successful cooperation has been developed. Through the Southern Gas Corridor, a multilateral format of cooperation consisting of 7 countries and many companies is able to ensure not only the timely completion of the project, but also the maintenance of sustainable development and strengthening of inter-country relations.

He noted that the Southern Gas Corridor was a major infrastructure project that required political reconciliation, strong partnership and continuous support, as well as great financial support. The project is carried out without financial problems, ensuring a high level of cost efficiency. Another success of the Southern Gas Corridor is the solution to the problem of dealing with a large number of people in the work done within the framework of the project. Therefore, the Southern Gas Corridor is not only an element of energy security, but also a powerful driving force for economic and social development in a large space. This project will play an important role in ensuring European energy security and diversifying gas supplies.

Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources of Turkey Alparslan Bayraktar spoke about the importance of the Southern Gas Corridor, TANAP, as the results of the Azerbaijani-Turkish brotherhood and strategic partnership - energy and communication projects - Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum, Baku-Tbilisi-Kars. He stated that the TANAP project was already ready for gas supplies to Europe. Turkey has received 4.4 billion cubic meters of gas through TANAP since July 1, 2018. This year, such volume is expected to reach 6 billion cubic meters.

Italian Deputy Minister of Economic Development Alessandra Todde stated that if Azerbaijan was the starting point of the Southern Gas Corridor, its ending point was Italy at the moment. Azerbaijan and Italy are important sides of this corridor linking five countries. The Southern Gas Corridor, in particular TAP, is a manifestation of Azerbaijan-Italy friendship and a peak of energy cooperation. Azerbaijan and Italy will be among the leading countries to transport natural gas.

He noted that during the recent state visit of the Azerbaijani President to Italy we witnessed a high-level assessment of the TAP project and its regional and global significance. Italian President Sergio Mattarella provides a special support for the acceleration of TAP's implementation. Upon the completion of the TAP project, Azerbaijani gas will be transported to Italy, which is important for diversification of routes and sources that are the basis of the EU energy policy. At the same time, TAP will contribute to the further development of relations between Italy and Azerbaijan, as well as to the preservation of stability in the Caspian and Mediterranean regions.

Kurt Donnelly, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Diplomacy noted that the US was providing a strong and sustainable political support to Azerbaijan's energy policy. The energy sector has always been of strategic importance in Azerbaijani-US relations. The United States has been a resolute partner in all energy-related initiatives of Azerbaijan. The US provides high and steady support for the successful entry of the Southern Gas Corridor into the final phase. The Southern Gas Corridor is the peak of US-Azerbaijan cooperation in the field of energy.

UK Prime Minister's Trade Envoy to Azerbaijan, Baroness Emma Nicholson spoke about Azerbaijan-UK relations and the successful results of energy partnership relations in recognition of Azerbaijan as a reliable supplier of oil and gas in the world energy market, acting as a guarantor of energy security. She said that the work on BP-operated projects in the implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor, which would directly connect the Caspian region with Europe, had always been distinguished by its rapid progress. Regular high-level representation of the UK at the meetings of the Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council is an example of important political support to this project.

Georgian Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Natela Turnava noted that the Southern Gas Corridor would meet Georgia's gas demand. At the same time, it will benefit transit opportunities.

Deputy Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change of Greece, Gerassimos Thomas stated that Greece was the country in which the TAP gas pipeline had been laid. At present, the work on the part of the pipeline passing through Greece is at a high level. TAP is a project that provides economic development, opening of new jobs, along with the energy supply of Greece. Greece will receive about 1 billion cubic meters of “Shah Deniz” gas.

Bulgaria's Energy Minister Temenucka Petkova noted that the Azerbaijani gas would be transported in 2021. As the main leading parties, the adviser to the president of Turkmenistan Yagshigeldi Kakayev, Minister of Mining and Energy of Serbia Aleksandr Antic, Head of Gas, Oil and Licensing Department - Montenegro Energy Regulatory Agency Zarko Djuranovic, Assistant Minister of Environmental Protection and Energy of Croatia Domagoj Validžić, Deputy Minister of Economy, Energy and Business Environment of Romania Niculae Havrilet, deputy director of the Department of Energy and Climate Diplomacy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary Felix Moldovan spoke about the strategic role of Azerbaijan as the main leader of the Gas Corridor and the importance of the project's contribution to the diversification of energy routes and sources in Europe. It was noted that the Southern Gas Corridor was included in the List of Projects of Common Interest (PCI) of the European Commission. The Southern Gas Corridor is not only a project of energy supply and energy security, but also a source of utility and profitability for all parties - extractors, transit countries and consumers.

Other news