In Search of Gas, European Commission Chief Heads to Azerbaijan

As part of the efforts to reduce the European Union’s reliance on Russian energy, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will travel to Baku on Monday along with Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson to seek more natural gas from Azerbaijan.

The Commission said on Twitter that the EU has prioritized the diversification of its energy imports amid Moscow’s continued weaponization of Russian energy supplies.

Von der Leyen will try to further strengthen the cooperation with Azerbaijan after it proposed to EU countries, which have already agreed to a gradual oil embargo on Russia, a draft-deal with to increase imports of natural gas and support the expansion of a pipeline.

Since December 2020, the Azeri natural gas arrives in Europe from the Shah Deniz II offshore field in the Caspian Sea through the Trans-Adriatic (TAP) pipeline, which is part of the Southern Gas Corridor, that connects with the Trans Anatolian Pipeline at the Greek-Turkish border and crosses Northern Greece, Albania, and the Adriatic Sea before reaching Italy.

Designed with the potential of a full capacity of 20 bcm/y that should be reached in 2023, when Shah Deniz is expected to reach peak output, the TAP pipeline’s current capacity is 10 bcm/y.

Although TAP’s routing can significantly facilitate gas supply to several Southeastern European countries, the volumes imported to the EU via the TAP stream are, they cannot replace the Russian imports of 155 bcm/y.

Reuters reported last week that Brussels plans to urge member countries to prepare for potential Russian supply cuts by scaling back their demand for gas in order, citing a draft of the proposal due to be published on July 20.

The document proposes for the countries to entice their citizens to use less heating and cooling, to convince industries using financial incentives- including auctions or tenders to incentivize large consumers- to cut gas and exhaust fuel switching in industry and power plants.

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