EU officials in Azerbaijan to ease Russia gas dependency

By: AFP
Published: 07:57 PM, 4 Feb, 2022
EU officials in Azerbaijan to ease Russia gas dependency
Caption: EU officials in Azerbaijan to ease Russia gas dependency.
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The European Union's energy commissioner visited Azerbaijan on Friday in an effort to diversify the continent's energy sources and reduce dependency on Russian gas as tensions with Moscow soar over Ukraine.

Energy commissioner Kadri Simson met with Azerbaijan's authoritarian leader Ilham Aliyev to discuss ramping up supplies from the energy-rich Caucasus country.

Officials from other European countries as well as the United Kingdom and the United States were also part of the delegation. 

Simson and Aliyev discussed the Southern Gas Corridor (SCG), a route that brings supplies from the Caspian Sea to Europe and has been operational since 2020.

Western claims that Moscow is plotting to attack Ukraine have led to fears that Moscow could suspend its gas deliveries to Europe.

Some in the EU have accused Russia of orchestrating an energy crisis with the aim of putting pressure on Western countries.  

"I want to thank Azerbaijan for their efforts in ramping up gas supplies travelling to the EU via the Southern Gas Corridor," Simson said on Twitter after meeting Aliyev.

After a meeting with Azeri Energy Minister Parviz Shahbazov she added: "We agreed to step-up our partnership, both in the gas sector, but also in the field of #renewables."

Aliyev for his part hailed a new chapter in cooperation between the EU and his country.

"Cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan in the (energy) sphere has entered a new phase," Aliyev said in a statement.

The gas route involves pipelines going through Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and Greece before reaching Italy via the Adriatic Sea. 

Baku began sending gas towards Europe from its massive Shah Deniz field in the Caspian Sea last year. 

Russia supplies more than 40 percent of European gas imports. 

Western countries are currently trying to find alternative solutions, particularly by increasing deliveries of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

In power since 2003, Aliyev has been accused by rights groups and Western countries of presiding over a crackdown on his opponents, the media and the freedom of speech. 

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.