EU welcomes Azerbaijan as new gas partner

June 28, 2013 at 8:30 AM

BRUSSELS, June 28 (UPI) -- Members of the European Union have a new natural gas partner in Azerbaijan following a decision on a pipeline from the Caspian Sea, an EU leader said Friday.

"The Shah Deniz consortium announced today that it has selected the Trans Adriatic Pipeline to deliver gas volumes from the Shah Deniz stage 2 project to customers in Greece, Italy and Southeast Europe," a statement from a BP-led consortium said Friday.

TAP won out against the Nabucco West pipeline, which was planned from the Turkish border. BP said TAP, along with its associated infrastructure, would cost more than $40 billion and eventually deliver more than 560 billion cubic feet of natural gas from Azerbaijan to the European market.

TAP is part of the Southern Gas Corridor, a network of pipelines meant to break the Russian grip on the regional energy sector. Most of Russia's gas for Europe heads through Ukraine and tensions between Russian energy company Gazprom and the Ukrainian government make that option risky for Europe.

European leaders have been looking for alternative options since Gazprom cut off natural gas supplies to Ukraine briefly because of contractual disputes in 2009.

EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger welcomed the BP decision as a foundation for European energy security.

"We now have a new partner for gas, and I am confident that we will receive more gas in the future," he said in a statement Friday.

The consortium controlling Nabucco West issued a statement saying the decision was a "setback" and regrets it was not chosen by the BP-led group.

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