BAKU (Ria Novosti)–Energy-rich Azerbaijan is ready to supply half its natural gas extracts to the Western-backed Nabucco pipeline intended to pump gas to Europe, a presidential administration official said on Thursday.
Nabucco, whose planned pipeline would bypass Russia, is a rival project to the Kremlin-backed South Stream gas pipeline. Both projects aim to supply natural gas to Southern and Central Europe.
“Azerbaijan attaches great importance to Nabucco … We are ready to supply 50% of Azerbaijani gas via the pipeline,” Ali Gasanov, head of the social and political department of the Azerbaijani president administration, said.
The South Stream project is designed to deliver up to 63 billion cubic meters of Central Asian and Russian natural gas under the Black Sea while Nabucco is intended to pump 31 billion cu m of natural gas from the Caspian region via Turkey.
Natural gas production in Azerbaijan grew 0.8% in 2009 year-on-year to 23.58 billion cubic meters. Azerbaijani gas is currently supplied to Turkey, Georgia, Russia and Iran. Azerbaijan’s recoverable gas reserves are estimated at 2-3 trillion cubic meters.
In an apparent bid to divert Azerbaijani gas supplies from Nabucco, Russian energy giant Gazprom agreed with Azerbaijan to buy 1 billion cubic meters of gas from the ex-Soviet South Caucasus republic this year and around 2 bcm from 2011.
Even though Azerbaijan is viewed as a potential supplier of gas for Nabucco, experts doubt that the pipeline will ever come online as its operation requires the participation of Turkmenistan, a major natural gas supplier in Central Asia, which has not yet agreed to join the project.