BAKU, Azerbaijan, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- The European Commission president said Tuesday's decision to invest in a gas corridor from Azerbaijan is a "breakthrough" for energy security.
EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger and President Jose Manuel Barroso attended a signing ceremony in Azerbaijan for the final investment decision for extracting natural gas from phase 2 of the Shah Deniz field in the Caspian Sea.
By the end of 2019, European customers will get more than 350 billion cubic feet of natural gas from the so-called Southern Corridor of gas transit networks, which includes the 540-mile Trans-Adriatic pipeline.
"Today's decision by the Shah Deniz II consortium is a strategic door opener for stronger European energy security," Barroso said in a statement. "This is a major milestone for the diversification of our energy supplies, to the benefit of European consumers and businesses."
Shah Deniz is serviced by British energy company BP and the State Oil Co. of Azerbaijan Republic. BP and SOCAR in a joint statement Tuesday said they'd invest around $28 billion in developing the second stage of the offshore natural gas field.
The Southern Corridor adds a layer of diversity to a European gas market dependent on Russia.
"It brings benefits to countries stretching from the Caspian Sea to the heart of Europe through creating a direct transportation link between the Caspian and the European gas markets," SOCAR President Rovnag Abdullayev said in a statement.