Maros Sefcovic: Azerbaijan is a strategic energy partner for EU - INTERVIEW
Q: What’s your opinion of Azerbaijan’s role in the energy security of Europe? Do you have any details as to how many countries will gain from the Southern Gas Corridor project?
A: Azerbaijan is a very important, strategic energy partner for the European Union. Apart from being a major oil exporter, Azerbaijan's pivotal role is related to its position as a key partner for the realization of the Southern Gas Corridor.
I can confirm that good progress has been achieved on all the projects along the Southern Gas Corridor since I attended the inauguration ceremony of the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline in March 2015 in Kars, Turkey and for the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline in Thessaloniki, Greece in May 2016. Together with our Azerbaijani partners we expect the first gas deliveries by 2018 already to Turkey and by 2020 to the EU.
As part of our efforts to create a resilient Energy Union with a forward-looking climate policy, increasing security, solidarity and trust by diversifying Europe's energy suppliers and routes is central for improving competition and driving down prices for EU consumers. The Southern Gas Corridor plays a key role in our strategy to achieve these objectives.
Q: Is there any work being done to expand the project and have new countries involved?
A: The Southern Gas Corridor is an important project for the entire region of South-East Europe. In order to better coordinate the development of a well-functioning natural gas market in the region we are working closely together with all relevant stakeholders in the recently set up High Level Group on Central and South Eastern Europe Gas Connectivity (CESEC). The completion of the Southern Gas Corridor and the supply with Azerbaijani gas could potentially be an important alternative energy carrier to the entire Western Balkans. We, therefore, work closely together with our partners from the Energy Community Secretariat in Vienna in order to facilitate the development of domestic natural gas infrastructure and necessary interconnection facilities in the region.
Q: What’s Brussels’ attitude towards Iran’s involvement in this project?
A: As part of our efforts to create a resilient Energy Union with a forward-looking climate policy, increasing security, solidarity and trust by diversifying Europe's energy suppliers and routes is central for improving competition and driving down prices for EU consumers. These are our guidelines in all our talks to enhance Europe's energy security with partners from a variety of backgrounds and countries.
Q: You hold constant discussions with Ashgabat on Turkmenistan’s participation in this project? How likely is Turkmenistan to join in?
A: For the European Union the Trans-Caspian Pipeline is an important, complementary element of the Southern Gas Corridor in order to connect the significant gas reserves of Central Asia to the European markets. This is in both sides' interest, both for us here in Europe and for our partners in Turkmenistan. To this end, in 2015 I signed the Ashgabat Declaration with Turkmenistan, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia on the cooperation in the energy field. We all remain committed to the declaration and are in regular contact to explore possibilities of cooperation.
Q: It no secret to you that there are some groups trying to hinder the progress of the TAP project. Who are the masterminds behind? And what is the likelihood of them fulfilling their desire?
A: I can confirm that good progress has been achieved on all the projects along the Southern Gas Corridor since I attended the inauguration ceremony of the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline in March 2015 in Kars, Turkey and for the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline in Thessaloniki, Greece in May 2016. Together with our partners from Azerbaijan we expect the first gas deliveries by 2018 already to Turkey and by 2020 to the EU. We are in constant exchange with all relevant stakeholders and we are confident that we will meet out set targets.
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