Baku: All options open for gas for Europe

Dec. 8, 2011 at 8:46 AM

BRUSSELS, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- All options remain on the table in terms of which of the European natural gas pipeline options will tap into fields in Azerbaijan, an official said.

Europe views transit networks outlined in the so-called Southern Corridor as a way to break Russia's grip on the regional energy sector. A 2009 dispute between Kiev and Moscow prompted Russian energy company Gazprom to cut gas supplies to Ukraine, which hosts most of the Russian natural gas bound for European markets.

Energy consortiums managing Nabucco, the Interconnector Turkey-Greece, and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, submitted proposals to Azerbaijan in October.

Azeri Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov told Bloomberg News from Brussels that in terms of the Southern Corridor, "all options are on the table."

Baku had said it would deliver as much as 350 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year from its Shah Deniz-2 project in the Caspian Sea through whichever project it picks.

U.S. and European delegates at a recent energy conference in Washington said an October gas agreement between Turkey and Azerbaijan brought the Southern Corridor "one step closer to being launched."

Mammadyarov said it would likely be early 2012 before his country makes a decision.

"Realistically speaking," he added, it would be as late as 2019 before the first gas from Azerbaijan reaches European markets.

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