BAKU, Azerbaijan, July 20. The potential expansion of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) might significantly add to Europe’s energy security, the researcher in EU energy and climate policy at the European Policy Center (EPC) Marco Giuli told Trend.
"Azerbaijan became an important alternative supplier since the launch of TAP. While current volumes are limited, they had a relevant role in mitigating South Eastern Europe’s vulnerability to the cut off of Russian supplies. With the Greece-Bulgaria interconnector, Bulgaria will have further access to the Caspian gas. The potential expansion of TAP might provide further relief to Italy and the Western Balkans," he said.
"Challenges concern both supply and demand. It requires the development of new fields in the Caspian, which in turn needs to rely on stable demand prospects," he said.
"Today there is an abundant spare capacity in pipelines to Europe from North Africa. Italy is working to get more gas from Algeria. For example, three billion cubic meters were added this year, while six more should be available from 2024 on. Prospects from Libya appear more challenging in light of the turbulent political context," he noted.
As Giuli noted, a "Memorandum of Understanding on Strategic Partnership in the field of energy between the European Union represented by the European Commission and the Republic of Azerbaijan" signed in July 18, 2022, is a notable step in the EU-Azerbaijan energy cooperation.
"Doubling gas exports to Europe by 2027, for Italy, for example, might mean not just the possibility to completely replace Russian supplies (from which the country might be independent by 2024) but to re-export Caspian gas towards central Europe," he explained.
In addition, the expansion might help western Balkan countries to reduce their vulnerability. Considering the timing, however, reflections should concentrate on demand. Persistent high prices and climate targets are expected to cause a reduction in Europe’s need for gas, the expert noted.