Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev attend the ceremony marking the start of work on the $10 billion pipeline in Turkey’s Kars region, part of a drive aimed at reducing dependence on Russian gas.
The 1,850- kilometer Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) pipeline, which is due to be completed in 2018, will link the existing South Caucasus Pipeline (SCP) which connects Turkey to the Azerbaijani gas fields in the Caspian Sea, through Georgia.
TANAP is part of the Southern Gas Corridor, a long-awaited plan to bring gas to Europe from Azerbaijan, and from sources other than Russia (see background).
The backers of the project expect that the TANAP will then link up with the planned Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) that will bring the gas from western Turkey to Greece, Albania and across the Adriatic, to Italy.
Azerbaijani media have estimated the pipeline’s cost at $10-11 billion, well above initial estimates when the project was first conceived.
According to the partnership agreement signed last week, Azerbaijan’s state energy firm SOCAR and Turkey’s Botas will hold 58% and 30% stakes respectively, while British energy giant BP has a 12 percent share.
“There will be no political obstacle before this project,” Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said at last week’s partnership ceremony. “I hope that we will consume the natural gas from Shah Deniz 2 both in Turkey and Europe by the end of 2018.”
The pipeline should help Turkey and the European Union reduce dependence on imports of gas from Russia by exploiting the Shah Deniz 2 field, which, according to BP, will produce 16 billion cubic metres of gas per year.
However Turkey, whose relations with Moscow have warmed considerably in recent years, is also talking with Russia on a new Turkish Stream pipeline that will pump Russian gas under the Black Sea to its own territory, as well as to Europe.
Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili said during his visit to the city of Kars yesterday, where the foundation for Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline was laid that Georgia, Turkey and Azerbaijan have shown how it is possible to create a model of successful regional cooperation and not only in the energy field.
According to him, the project will be successful, because there are already examples of successful cooperation between the three countries in some areas.
“The South Caucasus pipeline expansion is an integral project of the Shah Deniz Phase 2. It is necessary to note that billions of dollars have been invested in the development of both. We expect at least 2 billion dollars to be invested in Georgia through this project.
The South Caucasus pipeline expansion will supply additional gas to Georgia. The project will create more jobs in the country, the Georgian port and railway infrastructure will be further developed and new opportunities will be created for small and medium business development.
The project will contribute significantly to the regional and European energy security, which is extremely important, given the complicated unstable political situation,”- said the President.
According to Margvelashvili, Georgia has always been a gateway between Europe and Asia, performing the most important function for centuries.
In his speech the President focused on the successful trade-economic relations between Georgia, Turkey and Azerbaijan. According to him, Turkey and Azerbaijan were the first and second trading partner countries respectively for Georgia last year. In addition, the President said he believes there is even more potential for deepening the trade-economic relations between the three countries.