BRUSSELS, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- Cooperation between the European Union and Azerbaijan in the energy sector is "bearing fruit," a European diplomat said.
Stefan Fule, European commissioner for enlargement and neighborhood policy, said negotiations with the Azeri government on an agreement have gained momentum in recent months. On energy matters in particular, Fule said significant steps have been taken on the so-called Southern Corridor.
"We are glad to see Azerbaijan and the European Union moving closer to each other," he said in a statement from Brussels. "Our cooperation is bearing fruit."
The Azeri Parliament recently signed off on agreements with Turkey to build the Trans-Anatolia pipeline, designed to carry natural gas from the BP-controlled Shah Deniz field in the Azeri waters of the Caspian Sea.
Baku, Fule said, is expected in January to pick from competing pipeline proposals for Azerbaijan's preferred route for European natural gas deliveries.
The Southern Corridor is a network of pipelines meant to break the Russian grip on the European energy sector by diversifying the supplier base. Contractual disputes between the Ukrainian government and Russian energy Gazprom have made conventional transit routes potentially risky.