“Turkey open to cooperation for security of energy supply in the region, Europe”

Turkey is ready to deepen its cooperation with Azerbaijan and other countries in the region to make the most of the Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline (TANAP), the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources said on Friday, as the country is vital for the security of Europe’s energy supply.

Fatih Dönmez spoke at the eighth advisory board meeting of the Southern Gas Corridor (SCG), a route that brings supplies from the Caspian Sea to Europe and has been operational since 2020, held in Baku and chaired by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

Dönmez said the high-level attendance at the event showed the determination of countries in the region to further cooperate. The European Union’s energy commissioner was also in Baku for the event. Representatives from other European countries as well as the United Kingdom and the United States were also part of the delegation.

Stressing that cooperation between the countries is growing more and more every year, given the concerns of energy security and climate change, Dönmez said: “Energy transformation, which is a global phenomenon within the framework of collective efforts to combat against climate change, is a necessity and all countries are facing the process of transformation.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an economic recession and the energy sector has also been significantly affected, Dönmez said, noting that a rapid recovery process has begun after the decline in 4% of global energy demand in 2020.

“This economic recovery is putting serious pressure on parts of the current energy system and causing sharp price increases in the natural gas, coal and electricity markets,” he said and that “these developments have demonstrated the importance of regional cooperation for energy security”.

He reiterated that the SGC would not have been possible without the support of Turkey and Azerbaijan.

He underlined that Turkey “is the most reliable port to increase the EU’s security of supply”.

“Turkey has proven its reliability with its investments in infrastructure and its success in international projects,” the minister added.

Dönmez said that additional reserves and additional source countries will be needed to increase the volume of gas transported through the gas pipelines connected to the SGC, stressing that Turkey “is ready to develop cooperation with Azerbaijan and other countries of the region”.

“TANAP has a maximum capacity of 31 billion cubic meters (bcm). We support investment initiatives to utilize this WHO capacity,” he said.

EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson also met with Azerbaijani Aliyev on Friday to discuss increased supplies from the energy-rich Caucasus country.

Western countries claim Russia is plotting to attack Ukraine, stoking fears that Moscow could cut gas supplies to Europe.

Some within the EU have accused Russia of orchestrating an energy crisis to pressure Western countries.

“I would like to thank Azerbaijan for its efforts to increase gas supply to the EU through the Southern Gas Corridor,” Simson said on Twitter after meeting Aliyev.

After a meeting with Azeri Energy Minister Parviz Shahbazov, she added: “We have agreed to intensify our partnership, both in the gas sector, but also in the field of #renewables”.

Aliyev, for his part, hailed a new chapter in cooperation between the EU and his country.

“The cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan in the (energy) field has entered a new phase,” Aliyev said in a statement.

The gas route involves pipelines passing through Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and Greece before reaching Italy via the Adriatic Sea.

Last year, Baku started sending gas to Europe from its huge Shah Deniz field in the Caspian Sea.

The TANAP pipeline forms the backbone of the SGC.

Russia supplies more than 40% of European gas imports.

Western countries are currently trying to find alternative solutions, in particular by increasing deliveries of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

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Sharon P. Juarez