EU to increase purchases of Azerbaijani gas amid rising tensions with Russia
The European Union will hold talks with Azerbaijan to discuss the possibility of increasing gas supplies to Europe through the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).
The Financial Times reports, citing sources, that next week the European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, will pay a visit to Baku, where she will meet with the Minister of Energy of Azerbaijan Parviz Shahbazov and the Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources Mukhtar Babaev.
"We expect the talks to focus on Azerbaijan's role in diversifying gas supplies to Europe," an unnamed EU official said. – “This includes the possibility of increasing gas supplies through the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Europe. The capacity of TAP is currently about 10 billion cubic meters per year, [Azerbaijan] is a stable and reliable supplier to the EU."
European authorities are looking for alternative gas suppliers as Russia cuts supplies and continues to move its military to the borders with Ukraine.
The package of sanctions in case of a possible invasion will include blocking the Nord Stream 2 project, German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbock warned on Thursday. In addition, Brussels fears that Moscow itself will further cut exports, which are already in a state of collapse.
Despite the peak of the heating season, in the first half of January, Gazprom exported only 5.4 billion cubic meters to foreign markets, which is 41% less than in the same period a year earlier.
Deliveries of Russian gas to the European Union fell by a third compared to October and 43% compared to last summer, Saxo Bank estimates. Europe has started substituting Russian gas with liquefied gas, with the imports reaching a 2-year high (300 million cubic meters per day) and almost 6 times exceeding Gazprom’s supplies.
According to Bloomberg, the US administration is establishing a coalition of large gas suppliers that could compensate European countries for the possible loss of gas supplies from Gazprom in the event of Russian invasion of Ukraine.
U.S. officials are negotiating with Qatar, the world's largest LNG producer, to provide Europeans with a "safety cushion" in the event of a gas shortage. The result of behind-the-scenes meetings may be a visit by Qatari Emir Ahmad bin Ali Al Thani to the United States.
At the same time, the U.S Department of State is also negotiating with American producers of liquefied natural gas, a senior official told Reuters. "The U.S. has promised not to leave Europe in the lurch if there is an energy shortage due to conflict or sanctions," the source said.