Gazprom-TAP cooperation: Russia waited 8 years to take revenge on EU
Reuters reports that had Brussels not had to violate the rules about Russia, this plan could have worked. TAP will supply European consumers with gas in 2019.
However, the European officials now remember that there is a rule in EU which bans monopoly in gas transportation. So, through the auction the owner of gas pipeline should allow others to use half of transportation capacity of the pipeline. This rule was adopted 8 years ago. Russia claims that this rule aims to prevent construction of a gas pipeline by Gazprom in the bottom of Black Sea. Consequently, Russia refused South Stream. Later on, TAP appeared. However, Gazprom said it intends to join TAP basing on abovementioned rule. Concretely, Gazprom intends to use half of TAP’s capacity. After TAP is launched for transportation of Shahdeniz gas, other may use its transportation capacity. In the current situation, there is not any real candidate except Gazprom.
On January 25, Gazprom Director General Alexander Medvedev said at Viena conference that Gazprom is exploring the possibilities of using Poseidon and TAP to transport gas to Europe.
The company’s official said that Nord Stream 2 and Turkish Stream may be insufficient to meet Europe’s demand for gas: “Therefore, we are negotiating with our partners from the Southern Europe. The subject is the usage of Poseidon and TAP”.
Then the top-manager noted that no concrete purpose was made on Gazprom’s joining TAP.
The following day, Italy’s Snam company supported Gazprom’s joining the TAP, saying it will double TAP’s capacity. Snam Vice-President Federico Ermoli said that Gazprom’s joining TAP will double its capacity: “We can increase the capacity up to 20 bcm by a small investment. This will cheaper than Poseidon’s expansion. Russian gas may be transported to Italy, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria”.”
Fluxys CEO Pascal De Buck also supported Gazprom’s joining the TAP.
The European officials acknowledge that they are desperate in this situation. In other words, the EU officials, who want to reduce dependence on Russian gas, are unable to prevent Gazprom’s usage of TAP. Some of them told Reuters that Gazprom’s joining the TAP will spoil Brussels’s plans to reduce dependence on Russian gas: “If this happens, we’ll not able to keep our words that promised our partners”. Reuters says the “partners” mean Ukraine and the Eastern Europe. As it known, these countries fully depend on Russian gas.
Interestingly enough, some European diplomats offered that abovementioned rules are not eligible for this project in order to prevent Russia’s participation in TAP. However, according to Reuters, the European Commission is not planning to take this step. Along with this, Reuters says that European Commission’s interference in this issue may damage efforts to create an open market. Moreover, we must not forget that Russia will absolutely respond to Brussels interference.
The European experts think that the main advantage of Russian gas is its cheapness. EU repeatedly promised its participants the gas of Israel, Aljazeera, Cyprus, Egypt even Iran. However, if Gazprom joins the TAP, these countries may give up their hopes.
Trans Adriatic Pipeline is a pipeline project to transport natural gas, starting from Greece–Turkey border at Kipoi, Evros, where it will be connected with the Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline. It will cross Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea and come ashore in Italy near San Foca. The total length of the pipeline will be 878 kilometres. The initial capacity of the pipeline will be about 10 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year, with the option to expand the capacity up to 20 billion cubic metres.
TAP shareholders: SOCAR (20%), BP (20%), "Snam" (20%), "Fluxys" (19%), "Enagas" (16%) and "Axpo" (5%).
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