Georgia Turns to Azerbaijani Gas, Trans Adriatic Creeps Ahead in Italy Despite Protest

A Lazio Region (Italy) court has dismissed an appeal to prevent the construction of a portion of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) through an olive tree orchard in the Apulia region.

A Lazio Region (Italy) court has dismissed an appeal to prevent the construction of a portion of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) through an olive tree orchard in the Apulia region.

The r

emoval of olive trees

 started last March and was stopped last 6 of April after the Apulia Region (Italy) presented an appeal against the Ministry of Ecology’s decision that allowed the explantation of the trees.

Michele Emiliano, the governor of Apulia region, said local people will keep opposing the pipeline’s construction.

“We will continue our fight because we firmly believe that it is unfair that the Tap will land in one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe and that it will have to build miles of gas pipeline under the largest olive grove of Italy”, Emiliano was quoted by

local media

as saying.

Only 13 olive trees are left on the construction site in question. 168 have already been transferred to another location, whereas 30 are awaiting transportation.

At the moment is not clear when works will restart. However, if the explantation of olive trees will not be completed by the 30 of April, work will be delayed until November.

TAP, together with the South Caucasus Pipeline (SCPX) and Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) is part of the

Southern Gas Corridor

– a project that aims at bringing gas from the Caspian region to the European Union with the purpose of diversifying the European gas supply away from dependence on the Russian Federation.

TAP will be fed by the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), which runs through Turkey into Greece. Once finished, the pipeline will be 878 kilometres in length. Starting near Kipoi on the border of Turkey and Greece, TAP will connect with the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP).

From there it will cross northern Greece, Albania, cross the Adriatic Sea and reach Southern Italy, where it will tie into Italy’s gas transportation network.

According to the project

, TAP should be initially able to transport 10 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas per year, to be extended to 20 bcm once two extra compressor stations will be added in the future.

Once the

Southern Gas Corridor

is finished, Azerbaijani gas will reach Italy and will be able to feed the European gas grid. Equally, dependence on Russian gas will diminish. Many believe the Southern Corridor is the key element in Europe’s strategy for gas supply diversification.

Azerbaijan quickly became dependent on its oil and gas exports in the early 2000s. However, after a fall in the price of oil in 2015 and a devastating currency devaluation, it is currently looking to diversify its economy.

Large scale gas exports began in 2007 with the implementation of the Shah Deniz project. Since than,  Azerbaijan has exported gas to Turkey, Georgia and up until 2015 to Russia.

Currently, Azerbaijani gas is mainly exported through the South Caucasus Pipeline (SCP) that goes from Azerbaijan to Georgia and finally into Turkey and runs parallel to the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline.

However, Azerbaijan seems now to be struggling to keep up with demands. Demand of Azerbaijani gas has significantly increased over the last years both domestically and abroad.

In addition, Turkish offtake under the Shah Deniz I contract has risen to contract quantity levels in 2014-2015.

Azerbaijani might have to import gas from other countries in order to keep up with demand.

“This in turn means that, for the Southern Gas Corridor to provide substantial supply diversification for Europe during the 2020s, significant volumes would have to be acquired from Iraq, Iran, Turkmenistan (or other Central Asian countries) or East Mediterranean sources”, said

one expert.

Once the development of the the second phase of the Shah Deniz project will be concluded and the Shah Deniz I contract with Turkey will expire in 2021, the situation may improve.

On top of that, Georgian Minister of Energy Kakha Kaladze has recently announced that Georgia will begin purchasing only from Azerbaijan to meet its gas demand.

Azerbaijan has been a key supplier of gas to Georgia since 2007, when the Shah Deniz gas project came online.

Georgia has received some gas from Russia in recent years, receiving a total of 10% of the total volume of gas exported from the Russian Federation to Armenia through Georgia as a transit fee.

After long negotiations, Gazprom reached a new, two-year agreement with Georgia and switched to a monetary transit fee method for using Georgian pipelines. However,  during the first year, Georgia will be paid partly in kind and partly in cash.

According to the deal, Georgia would have been able to purchase additional Russian gas at 185 USD instead of 215 USD per 1000 cubic


, instead of previous 215 USD.

After purchasing around 100 million cubic meters of Russian gas between January and March 2017, Georgia decided to completely turn to

Azerbaijani gas.

“The agreement, which was arranged with Gazprom gives us an opportunity not to depend on Russian gas… We have an option to purchase gas from Azerbaijan or Iran. Today we decided to be fully supplied by Azerbaijan’s natural gas”, Kaladze said during an interview with



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