European Union (EU) states who were due to have hosted Russia’s South Stream gas pipeline have begun looking for alternative ways to improve their energy security after the Russian project washalted by President Vladimir Putin.
One of the options being discussed was the Southern Gas Corridor, which will ensure a constant gas supply from the Caspian and Middle Eastern regions to Europe via Georgia.
Eight countries’ Energy Ministers held talks in Brussels on Tuesday, December 9, with EU Energy Commissioner Maros Sefcovic as they looked for diversifying gas suppliers, sources and routes.
The EU was committed to integrate Central and South-Eastern European gas markets and diversifying gas suppliers, sources and routes. However, the Energy Ministers believed that could be achieved by implementing key regional projects including the Southern Gas Corridor, LNG terminals with corresponding pipeline systems and the development of East Mediterranean and Black Sea offshore gas reserves.
“We need to explore alternative options to South Stream to ensure energy supply. The most important projects to be completed as soon as possible,” said Sefcovic at the meeting in Brussels attended by the Energy Ministers and Representatives of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Romania and Slovenia.
Sefcovic believed the first energy supplies to Europe from the Caspian region via the Southern Gas Corridor would begin by 2019.
The Southern Gas Corridor was an initiative of the European Commission to ensure a gas supply from the Caspian and Middle Eastern regions to Europe. In the current geo-political conditions of Eastern Europe, this project was expected to reduce the dependency of the EU and Eastern European countries on Russian gas.
In this method gas will be shipped from Azerbaijan via the upgraded South Caucasus Pipeline through Georgia and along the TANAP, a completely new 2000km-long-pipeline through Turkey, until it reaches its Western borders.
“The Southern Corridor looks most promising, especially after planned projects like Nabucco and South Stream have not panned out,” said Agnia Grigas, a senior fellow at the McKinnon Center for Global Affairs at Occidental College in Los Angeles in an interview with Bloomberg.
However, another alternative discussed by the Ministers was the development of East Mediterranean and Black Sea offshore gas reserves which also outlined establishing a gas terminal in Georgia’s Black Sea Kulevi Oil Terminal.