Gas: EU turns to Azerbaijan to diversify its supplies

Gas: the EU turns to Azerbaijan to diversify its supplies

The European Union currently imports 8.1 billion cubic meters of natural gas through the Southern Gas Corridor, a set of gas pipelines that connect Azerbaijan to Europe.

The European Union on Monday announced an agreement with Azerbaijan to double its imports of natural gas from the Caucasus country in “a few years” as Europeans strive to shed their dependence on electricity. Russia at war in Ukraine.

The announcement was made during a trip to Baku by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who signed a memorandum of understanding with Azerbaijani leader Ilham Aliev. meaning.

Azerbaijan is a former Soviet republic that is strengthening its ties with the West and Turkey while sparing Russia.

The urgency to diversify Europe's energy supplies is all the more acute in Brussels as Moscow has cut the flow of gas in recent weeks, just as European countries need to fill their reserves. before winter.

The EU currently imports 8.1 billion cubic meters of natural gas through the Southern Gas Corridor, a collection of gas pipelines that run from from Azerbaijan to Europe via Georgia and Turkey.

With the agreement announced on Monday, we want to expand its capacity to 20 billion cubic meters per year within a few years, said Ms von der Leyen in a joint press statement with Mr. Aliyev, with an intermediate target of 12 billion cubic meters by 2023.

This will help offset cuts in Russian gas supplies and contribute significantly to the security of supply from Europe, she added.

Even before Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine, Russian gas supplies to Europe had ceased to be reliable. The European Union has therefore decided to […] turn to more reliable and trustworthy suppliers, underlined Ms von der Leyen. Azerbaijan is one of them.

For his part, Aliev said the agreement announced on Monday represents a roadmap for the future.

He underlined that the exploitation of new deposits would make it possible to increase the production of natural gas in the coming years.

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine at the end of February, the EU has been working hard to increase its imports from sources other than Russia, such as the United States, the Qatar, Norway, Algeria and Azerbaijan, authoritarian countries in the Caucasus.

But this diversification will take time and European countries remain in the short term dependent – ​​to varying degrees – on their imports of Russian gas, which last year amounted to 155 billion cubic meters, or almost 40% of their needs.

Therefore, the EU, which introduced tough economic sanctions against Moscow after the invasion of Ukraine, took an approach cautious on the energy sector.

The pipeline, which carries natural gas from Russia to Germany, has been under maintenance for a few days.

While EU leaders in May approved the x27;Shutting down the bulk of Russian oil imports by the end of the year, they carefully avoided taking any action that might thwart their imports of Russian gas.

< p class="e-p">Despite everything, Moscow has already started to turn off the tap and the Europeans fear a total disruption of deliveries in reaction to the sanctions.

The Nord Stream gas pipeline, which supplies Germany and other countries from Russia, is currently down for maintenance and European customers are concerned that Moscow is not claiming a technical reason for not reopening the floodgates.

Even before this temporary shutdown of Nord Stream, Russia had sharply reduced deliveries in recent weeks, citing the Russian Federation absence of a German Siemens turbine sent to Canada to be repaired and presented as essential to the proper functioning of the pipeline.

Canada announced last week that it would send the turbine in question back to Germany, with Siemens taking care of returning it to Russia.

Gas giant Gazprom said it had not obtained any guarantees on the return of equipment. But Russian media reported on Monday that the turbine was expected in Russia next week.

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