Hochstein: US strongly supports Southern Gas Corridor project (EXCLUSIVE) (INTERVIEW)
Baku, Azerbaijan, Nov.28
By Leman Zeynalova – Trend:
Trend’s exclusive interview with Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs and head of the Bureau of Energy Resources at the US Department of State Amos Hochstein.
Q: How do you assess the current progress in the implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor project?
A: Thanks to strong support from the government of Azerbaijan and its project partners, there has been significant progress in the implementation of all the major segments of the Southern Gas Corridor. This includes expansion of the Shah Deniz field and the South Caucasus Pipeline, as well as construction of the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). As a result, first gas should be delivered to Turkey in 2018 and to Europe in 2019-20. The United States government continues to support this strategic project.
Q: Russia and Turkey have recently reached an agreement on the Turkish Stream project. To what extent will the role of Southern Gas Corridor increase under new conditions, given that the EU intends to diversify the energy supply sources?
A: One of the important features of the Southern Gas Corridor is its scalability. Although it initially will carry 16 billion cubic meters per year (bcma), its capacity can be expanded as additional gas becomes available, whether from Azerbaijan or other sources, including Iraq, Turkmenistan, the Eastern Mediterranean, or elsewhere. This means the Southern Gas Corridor has the potential to make a significant contribution to EU efforts to diversify its energy supply sources – and is why I have spent so much of my time as Special Envoy supporting this project.
Q: How does the United States assess the significance of the Southern Gas Corridor for Europe’s energy security and for itself?
A: Affordable and reliable energy is a fundamental element of economic growth, and diversity is a key element of a nation’s energy security. In this context, diversity means diversity of fuel type, as well as diversity of source and supplier. The Southern Gas Corridor will provide Europe a new source and route of supply for natural gas, which is one of Europe’s main sources of energy. An economically-strong and more energy-secure Europe is in the interest of the United States, which is one of the reasons we strongly support the Southern Gas Corridor. On the other hand, a second line of Turkish Stream (should it be approved and Russia secure additional contracts in Europe) would bring more Russian gas to Europe without enhancing security of supply and could block the expansion of the Southern Gas Corridor, thereby preventing the export of additional gas from Azerbaijan.
Q: Construction of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) will create a network of gas pipelines and interconnectors in south-eastern Europe, as well as to supply gas to Albania. However, there are some forces which oppose the project’s implementation. How appropriate is the position of these forces?
A: TAP is an important part of the Southern Gas Corridor, since it provides the final link in the chain that will bring a new source of gas to Europe. TAP is being implemented using the most modern and up-to-date technology, including appropriate safety and environmental safeguards.