Azerbaijani President: We are in no way competitors to Russia
Azerbaijan took the main financial burden in all the four segments of the Southern Gas Corridor
"Our gas strategy was very clear and open. And for many years we did a lot in Azerbaijan and working with the partners in order to build this important project which is considered to be one of the biggest infrastructure projects in 21st century. The Southern Gas Corridor 3,500 km from Baku to Italy going under the Adriatic Sea, going through the high mountains," said President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said in interview with the Italian "Il Sole 24 Ore" newspaper in Brussels on December 15, during his working visit to Brussels, Qazet.az reports.
It is very complicated project from technical point of view and of course very costly. Azerbaijan took the main financial burden in all the four segments of the Southern Gas Corridor. And prior to the full completion of the project last December we already signed contracts with consumers and our gas was contracted. During this so called gas crisis, problem with the price, our consumers didn’t feel any changes. If we talk about our future plans of course there is a possibility to increase the output and to increase the export. But that will depend, of course, on the demand from the European consumers. The European Commission was assisting us in that process. We regularly convene in Baku the Advisory Council of the Southern Gas Corridor which is chaired by representatives of the European Union and Azerbaijan. And the next session will take place next February where we address all the issues and plan our future steps. It is a big group of companies, banks and countries. Now the team is growing because we became already supplier to Europe. Starting from 1 January we supplied 7.2 billion cubic meters of gas to Italy, Greece and Bulgaria, next year it will be 9, in 2023 it will be at least 11. So, it is a serious increase. But in order to increase the production we need, of course, to invest and in order to do that we need to have contracts with consumers. So the contracts first, investments second and gas third. This is the consequence of the stages of the process. But we are ready, as you said. We have future deposits, brand new modern infrastructure, with potential interconnectors to other destinations in Europe. You mentioned Balkans and I also would add Central Europe. And that will be the diversification of supplies for us and diversification for consumers," the head of the state noted.
-Yes. Let’s suppose that everything is going in the right direction, and you will increase the production. Don’t you fear the reaction of Russia? Because Russia is a very important economic partner of yours, is also a massive power in the region and it is a fact that it exports much, much more gas than yours. But it will be a symbolic move. Don’t you fear the reaction of Russia?
- No, not at all. First of all, this issue have never been discussed on the high level between the leaders of the countries. All our energy projects starting from oil pipeline to gas pipeline where completed in a very friendly environment in the region. This is the first thing, and second, Russia fully respects our policy, our foreign policy, our energy policy, and we are not rivals. As I sad many times, this issue is sometimes artificially exaggerated. We are in no way competitors to Russia, because Russia is supplying hundreds of billions of cubic meters to Europe and demand for Russian gas is growing. Azerbaijan just started. As I said our supply to Europe will be 11 billion in 2023 and it can stay like that if we don’t have new contract, and if we don’t invest in new production. Therefore, in no way, this could play any negative role in our relations with Russia which are very positive and well-balanced,"