Monday, January 9, 2012

Azerbaijan to Have its Own Gas Pipeline

Tired of Nabucco planning without implementation, Azerbaijan's Minister of Industry and Energy Natik Aliev and Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz signed a memorandum in late December to build their own natural gas pipeline. The new project, entitled the Trans Anadolu pipeline, will upgrade existing Turkish pipelines to carry 16 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas a year: 10 bcm throughput for the European market, and 6 bcm for domestic, Turkish consumption.
The pipeline will be 80 % owned by the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijani Republic (SOCAR). The remaining 20% will be divided between the two Turkish state-owned companies that control the pipelines: Petroleum Pipeline Corporation (BOTAS) and the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO.)
The question becomes, what will happen to Nabucco? Trans Anadolu will only deliver to Europe one third the capacity of the planned Nabucco pipeline, but it would deprive Nabucco of the Shah Deniz output that was essential to getting the project started. Gulmira Rzayeva, a research fellow at the Center for Strategic Studies, told Bloomberg, "Nabucco is impossible in the medium term because it is a costly project and needs more suppliers than Shah Deniz to be economically viable." RWE's Stefan Judisch said the new route "raises questions about access and financing."
The Turkish government says that this project is not necessarily an alternative to Nabucco, but could be a first step toward its ultimate completion. Given that Trans Anadolu can be built at a fraction ($9.2 billion) of Nabucco's cost (possibly as high as $20 billion), it remains to be seen if investors will be interested in spending the funds to complete the project(assuming additional feedstock can be found).