Azerbaijan, Bulgaria relations at strategic level: minister

By: Aynur Jafarova

Bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Bulgaria have reached the level of strategic partnership.

The remarks were made by Azerbaijan’s Energy Minister Natig Aliyev during a meeting with Bulgarian Economy and Energy Minister Dragomir Stoynev.

“We found a real solution to the issue of gas supplies to Bulgaria last year, when an agreement to supply one billion cubic meters of gas was signed between the Bulgargaz Company, Shah Deniz consortium, and Azerbaijan’s State Oil Company [SOCAR] with conditions for its transport, which particularly envisage the importance of constructing an interconnector,” the minister stressed.

Stoynev, in turn, said the construction of the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB) will start in 2015.

He noted the immediate construction of the interconnector will start next year.

The gas which will be produced at the second stage of Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz field development will be the main source of the Southern Gas Corridor, which envisages the transportation of the Caspian gas to the European markets.

The Shah Deniz consortium announced the selection of TAP as the main route for transporting its gas to Europe in late June. Another pipeline which was vying for Azerbaijan’s gas transportation to Europe was Nabucco West.

Azerbaijan agreed to sell over 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year from the second phase of its Shah Deniz development to nine companies in the European Union in September 2013.

The contracts were signed for 25 years between SOCAR and the European utilities, including Axpo Trading AG, Bulgargaz EAD, Depa, Gas Natural Fenosa, Hera Trading Srl, Shell Energy Europe, Enel SpA, E.ON SE, and GDF Suez SA.

The initial capacity of TAP will amount to 10 billion cubic meters per annum with the possibility of expanding to 20 billion cubic meters per annum.

TAP’s shareholders include BP (20 percent), SOCAR (20 percent), Statoil (20 percent), Fluxys (16 percent), Total (10 percent), E.ON (9 percent), and Axpo (5 percent).

The construction of TAP is planned to start in 2015.

In January, 2014, the TAP consortium and ICGB Company, which is keen on developing, financing and constructing IGB, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on technical cooperation aimed at further development of strategic infrastructure in the region.