European countries are turning to the Caspian Sea for sources of natural gas, boosting imports from Azerbaijan to counter the impact of sanctions on Russian energy supplies.
The national gas system operators of Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia agreed on Tuesday to boost the transfer of natural gas from Azerbaijan using the existing infrastructure of their countries, which were until recently highly dependent on Russian energy.
Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, called the signing of the agreement between the European nations and the State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan “a very timely step” that would bring bigger and more secure gas supplies to many more countries in Europe.
Aliyev attended the signing ceremony in Sofia, Bulgaria's capital.
Following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the European Union is trying to diversify European energy sources away from Russian gas. The EU signed a memorandum of understanding with Azerbaijan in July to double the volume of Azeri gas imports to 20 billion cubic metres per year by 2027.
Southern Gas Corridor
“The war in Ukraine prompted us to look for new dimensions of the concepts of good neighbourliness, mutual assistance and solidarity. It has prompted us to look for entirely new efficient solutions, new routes, and new modes of supply to redraw the international logistical map,” Bulgarian President Rumen Radev said.
Bulgaria is linked to the Southern Gas Corridor, a multi-segment pipeline project to get natural gas from Azerbaijan to Italy, through an inter-connector with Greece. The connector allows for the delivery of 1 billion cubic metres of Caspian gas to Bulgaria, covering nearly one-third of the country's needs, and has capacity to increase the volume to up to 5 billion cubic metres annually.