European Union leaders pledged in May to stop Russian energy imports as a part of a broader effort to censure and sanction Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.
Enter Azerbaijan, which has pledged to increase natural gas imports to Europe following the start of the war.
“Not only are we looking to strengthen our existing partnership, which guarantees stable and reliable gas supplies to the EU via the Southern Gas Corridor,” said Commission President Ursula von der Leye during a summer visit to Baku. “We are also laying the foundations of a long-term partnership on energy efficiency and clean energy, as we both pursue the objectives of the Paris Agreement,” von der Leyen said.
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also described Azerbaijan as “a key partner in our efforts to move away from Russian fossil fuels.”
In fact the two goals are interlinked in Azerbaijan as they are in many petroleum exporting countries. The more that Azerbaijan develops alternative energy for domestic consumption the more energy there will be for export
Currently, the majority of Azerbaijan’s electricity is produced by fossil fuels with the balance coming from hydroelectric sources, one of the benefits of Azerbaijan’s mountainous terrain. Yet its geography means that it has great potential for a variety of alternative and renewable energy resources. Wind power in the country has the potential to produce eight hundred megawatts per year. One origin story for Baku, the name of the capital city comes from “Badi Kube”, which translates from old Persian as “City of Wind” as strong winds sweep across the country.
“We fully support the territorial integrity and sovereignty and independence of all countries and we have supported Ukraine in this difficult time,” said Khazar Ibrahim, Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to the U.S. in an interview with Zenger. “It is really important to end this situation by diplomatic means, as it is important for both regional and global peace.”
The Azerbaijan Ambassador pledged that despite the recent border conflict with Armenia in September would still meet its global commitments to increase volumes of imports to Europe.
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said this month that talks have begun to expand the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). That pipeline currently delivers 10 billion cubic meters of gas each year from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz field to Europe. Italy accounts for 8 bcm per year of those imports, with Greece and Bulgaria taking the rest.
Yet, increased energy exports will take years to develop. Yet, even if liquefied natural gas flows to Europe in the interim, Azerbaijan will continue to flow.
“We don’t speak of competition,” said Khazar Ibrahim, Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to the U.S., in an interview with Zenger. “The more sources, the better it is overall for the market. At times of geopolitical crisis, in particular, the stability of the global energy market is achieved through cooperation with our partners around the globe.”
Ambassador confirmed those talks were progressing in an interview with Zenger News. He also said that the Southern Gas Corridor linking Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, and Greece will be crucial to expanding natural gas exports.
“We committed with the EU that by 2027 we will double natural gas exports to our partners elsewhere in Europe. From a current 10 billion bcm to European markets to 20 bcm by 2027 with increase each year in between,” said Khazar Ibrahim, Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to the U.S. in an interview with Zenger.
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