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Acerbaixán: un actor clave na seguridade enerxética de Europa

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The Old Continent stands on the brink of significant change. Current geopolitical instability compels European leaders to seek alternative energy sources. In these new realities, increasing attention is drawn to a reliable and ambitious country on the shores of the Caspian Sea – Azerbaijan.

A land of fire, ancient traditions, and vast prospects, Azerbaijan boasts not only a millennia-old history, unique nature, and rich culture but also immense reserves of various natural resources, including natural gas. With each passing day, the role of this small Caspian republic in ensuring Europe’s energy security becomes increasingly significant.

The oil and gas resources of the Caspian Sea have long attracted the attention of global powers. On September 20, 1994, the historic “Contract of the Century” marked a significant milestone in the region’s energy geopolitics. Initiated and led by the then-president of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev, this contract stands as one of the most crucial agreements in terms of its political, economic, and strategic significance. The “Contract of the Century,” worth $7.4 billion, involved 13 major international oil companies from 8 countries – Azerbaijan, the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, Türkiye, Norway, Saudi Arabia, and Japan.

Ao longo dos anos, Acerbaixán demostrou ser un socio fiable e honesto, fornecendo non só petróleo senón tamén gas a Europa. O combustible azul Caspio converteuse na clave da estabilidade de varios países europeos. Respondendo ás crecentes necesidades da rexión, as partes acordaron aumentar o abastecemento de gas a Europa ata os 20 millóns de metros cúbicos anuais para 2027. O correspondente memorando foi asinado no verán de 2022 polo presidente Ilham Aliyev e pola presidenta da Comisión Europea, Ursula von. der Leyen.

A UE e Acerbaixán selan un acordo de asociación estratéxica sobre seguridade enerxética

“You are indeed a crucial energy partner for us and you have always been reliable. You were a crucial partner not only for our security of supply, but also in our efforts to become climate neutral,” said Ursula von der Leyen at the signing of the memorandum.

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Mapa do Corredor de Gas Sur      

As reservas de gas natural confirmadas no país ascenden a 2.6 billóns de metros cúbicos, con reservas proxectadas estimadas nuns 3 billóns de metros cúbicos. A principal fonte de gas natural desde Acerbaixán ata Europa é o xigantesco xacemento Shah Deniz, pero no futuro tamén está previsto que participen outros campos como Babek, Umid, Karabakh e Absheron. O primeiro gas e condensado de Absheron obtivéronse en xullo de 2023 e a produción de gas está prevista para comezar este ano como parte do proxecto para desenvolver o bloque Azeri-Chirag-Deepwater Gunashli. Inicialmente, prevese producir preto de medio billón de metros cúbicos, pero os volumes poderían quintuplicarse no futuro.

Today, Azerbaijani gas is received by Georgia, Türkiye, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Serbia, and Italy, and through Italy – several major energy companies from Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and Switzerland. Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovakia, and North Macedonia are also interested in purchasing gas. Additionally, Romania is interested in purchasing liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Azerbaijan. This promising project involves the production of LNG at the SOCAR terminal in one of the Black Sea ports of Georgia and its delivery in liquefied form to the Romanian port of Constanta.

Obras de construción en Berat, Albania, decembro de 2016

A demanda tan alta de gas de Acerbaixán non é sorprendente: os investimentos son atraídos pola fiabilidade, estabilidade e infraestrutura desenvolvida de Acerbaixán. Mesmo durante a pandemia, cando as cadeas comerciais e loxísticas foron interrompidas e algúns países rescindiron unilateralmente os contratos, Acerbaixán cumpriu todas as súas obrigas. A política de contratos a longo prazo permite a Acerbaixán garantir a previsibilidade e a fiabilidade dos subministros.

“So, today, we can all witness the Southern Gas Corridor has already changed many lives and made Europe safer. While Europe is ramping up its energy supplies, the Southern Gas Corridor by no doubt will remain one of the few stable and competitive sources of pipeline gas delivered to the EU,” said Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama during the Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting in March of this year.

10a reunión ministerial do Consello Consultivo do Corredor de Gas Sur en Bakú, Acerbaixán, marzo de 2024

For years, Azerbaijan has invested in the development of oil and gas infrastructure, and the crown jewel of these efforts was the opening of the Southern Gas Corridor, stretching about 3500 km. The corridor consists of three parts – the South Caucasus Pipeline (SCP), the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). Gas is pumped from the Shah Deniz field to the Georgia- Türkiye border via the South Caucasus Pipeline, and from there, one branch is supplied to Turkish consumers in Erzurum through the BOTAŞ system, while the other branch passes through TANAP to Turkish consumers in Eskisehir and then connects to TAP, through which gas flows to European countries – Greece, Bulgaria, and Italy.

The supply of Azerbaijani gas to Europe has also strengthened Italy’s role in this area. Adolfo Urso, Minister for Enterprise and Productivity of “Made in Italy,” noted in an interview with “Il Messaggero” that “in the future [Italy – ed.] will be able to become a gas hub, including through doubling the capacity of the TAP pipeline.” Azerbaijan has already become the second-largest gas supplier to Italy after Algeria.

Overall, the route for delivering Azerbaijani gas is becoming increasingly diversified. For example, in Greece, the IGB interconnector is connected to TAP with a capacity of 3 billion cubic meters (with the potential to expand to 5 billion cubic meters), through which 1 billion cubic meters are delivered to Bulgaria annually. There is also consideration for the construction of the Ionian-Adriatic pipeline – another interconnector with a capacity of 5 billion cubic meters per year. It is envisaged to pass through Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia.

The stability and reliability of the Azerbaijani partnership are particularly valuable in today’s turbulent times. EU countries are increasingly interested in Azerbaijani gas as a long-term and stable source. Last year, deliveries reached 11.5 billion cubic meters compared to 8 billion in 2021.

Taking these factors into account, the EU and Azerbaijan are unlocking new facets of the potential for energy cooperation each year. After the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Strategic Partnership between the EU and Azerbaijan in the summer of 2022, in April 2023, a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation between the gas transmission operators of Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Azerbaijani state company SOCAR was signed. The initiative, called the “Solidarity Ring,” opens up new opportunities for cooperation for additional gas supplies to Europe through enhanced gas transmission systems.

O abastecemento de gas de Azerbaiyán a Europa é un proxecto a gran escala e a longo prazo. Para manterse constantemente ao tanto do pulso enerxético, desde 2015 organizáronse en Acerbaixán reunións anuais de ministros no marco do Consello Consultivo do Corredor de Gas Sur. A última sesión, á que participaron representantes de 23 países, 6 organizacións internacionais e 44 empresas, tivo lugar a principios de marzo deste ano.

O Consello Consultivo desempeña un papel importante non só na coordinación das actividades dentro do Corredor Sur de Gas, senón tamén na discusión dos pasos adicionais dos países participantes para garantir a seguridade enerxética. Sendo un mecanismo esencial, o Consello Consultivo contribúe a responder adecuadamente aos retos modernos e, por iso, dende hai uns anos se celebran no consello reunións ministeriais sobre enerxía verde.

“O Corredor Sur de Gas evolucionou ata converterse nun foro de cooperación tamén en materia de renovables e electrificación. Este é un resultado extraordinario e é unha proba de como este proxecto está aberto ao futuro. Fixemos da enerxía limpa unha parte fundamental das relacións bilaterais UE-Azerbaiyán”, sinalou Kadri Simson, comisario europeo de Asuntos Enerxéticos e copresidente do Consello Consultivo do Corredor de Gas Sur, durante a última sesión.

En decembro de 2022, os gobernos de Acerbaixán, Hungría, Xeorxia e Romanía asinaron un acordo en Bucarest sobre asociación estratéxica no desenvolvemento e entrega de enerxía verde. O acordo supón a colocación dun cable no fondo do Mar Negro para transmitir enerxía eléctrica cunha capacidade de 1 GW. O cable está destinado a subministrar electricidade producida en Acerbaixán a través de Xeorxia e do Mar Negro ata Romanía para o seu posterior transporte a Hungría e outros estados europeos.

Nun futuro próximo, Acerbaixán converterase non só nun provedor, senón tamén nun país de tránsito de fontes de enerxía renovables a Europa desde os países de Asia Central. En novembro do ano pasado, Acerbaixán, Casaquistán e Uzbekistán acordaron establecer unha empresa conxunta para exportar enerxía verde a Europa. O acordo alcanzouse nunha reunión de ministros de enerxía e economía dos tres países celebrada en Bakú.

Neste contexto, o Corredor Sur de Gas pode desempeñar un papel importante na transición enerxética verde. Durante o período de transición no que as fontes de enerxía renovables non poden substituír totalmente aos combustibles fósiles, o Corredor Sur de Gas pode garantir a estabilidade do abastecemento enerxético. Ademais, o gas natural é un combustible fósil máis limpo en comparación co carbón e o petróleo, o que significa que o seu uso conduce a unha menor emisión de gases de efecto invernadoiro.

Azerbaijan’s contribution to diversifying energy sources and strengthening Europe’s energy security is significant. The strategic partnership between Azerbaijan and the EU in this area will continue to evolve, contributing to the stability and sustainable development of the entire region.

Acerbaixán non é só un exportador de gas, senón tamén un exportador potencial de enerxía procedente de fontes renovables. É un país que loita pola diversificación económica e o investimento no futuro. Os investimentos no desenvolvemento do sector do petróleo e do gas van acompañados de reformas estratéxicas a longo prazo destinadas a aumentar a transparencia e mellorar o clima empresarial. Acerbaixán demostrou ser un actor responsable no mercado enerxético mundial, preparado para a cooperación a longo prazo e solucións conxuntas aos desafíos globais.

As seccións da perforadora de microtúneles están montadas no lugar de traballo, Melendugno, Italia, xaneiro de 2019

In the history of oil and gas diplomacy, Azerbaijan has already made its bright and significant mark. Today, its role in ensuring Europe’s energy security is becoming increasingly important. Caspian gas not only warms the homes of Europeans but also ignites the flame of hope for a stable and prosperous future.

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