Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Trans Anatolian Gas Pipeline Strongest Game in Town

The Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) is the latest proposal to bring Shah Deniz II gas to Europe.  It currently holds the inside track, since the owners of the project are the state owned oil and gas companies of Turkey and Azerbaijan.  The pipeline will originate at the Caspian, and will take natural gas to Turkey's western border.  Ever since it was proposed in December 2011, it has frightened competing pipeline projects.

According to Olgu Kumus, an analyst at CERI Sciences Politiques in France, TANAP is the main competitor for Nabucco, and not the Gazprom-supported South Stream.  "The Trans-Anatolian pipeline aims to transfer the same gas source to Europe as Nabucco," he told SE Times.  "The most important partner in the Trans-Anatolian pipeline is SOCAR (the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan), which manages the Shah Deniz II gas field with BP.  In other words, the Trans Anatolian pipeline will not have a supply problem because the region's dominant supplier is a stakeholder."  Faced with such competition, Nabucco has now proposed a scaled-down version of its pipeline that starts at the western Turkish border, aptly named Nabucco West.

Not only is TANAP a threat to Nabucco, however, but as more Shah Deniz II gas comes on line the pipeline could expand its capacity.  This puts it in competition with South Stream.  SOCAR president Rovnag Abdullaev said that Azerbaijani gas production would reach 30 bcm by 2015, and 50 bcm by 2025.  He claimed that TANAP, originally planned to carry 16 bcm per year, would have the capacity to carry 60 bcm annually with a possibility of an increase.   Such expanded capacity would leave room for Turkmen gas if the Trans Caucasian Pipeline were to be built.

As plans proceed, SOCAR has invited other companies to join in the TANAP project.  "We would like other large international companies to be part of the project as well," said Abdullayev.   Ukraine's Ambassador to Turkey, Sergiy Korsunsky, told reporters that Ukraine would like to take a stake of up to 10% of TANAP and could pay for it with cash, or by supplying the project with pipes.  In addition, competing pipeline consortiums TAP (Trans Adriatic Pipeline) and ITGI (Interconnector Turkey Greece Italy) said that their projects were compatible with TANAP.  "TAP will be happy to work with the developers of TANAP for any required coordination between the two pipelines, thus providing a fully integrated solution for the delivery of Caspian gas to Europe," External Affairs Director Michael Hoffman told Reuters.  Similarly, the CEO of IGI Poseidon, ITGI's operator, said "The ITGI project starting at the Turkish-Greek border is fully compliant with any option to transit Azeri gas through Turkey, including TANAP."