Azerbaijan makes first direct gas deliveries to Europe from field in Caspian Sea

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Azerbaijan said Thursday it started gas deliveries to Europe from the Shah Deniz field in the Caspian Sea, part of a project aimed at reducing European dependence on Russian supplies.

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The Shah Deniz consortium led by British oil giant BP said in a statement that gas from the field had arrived via the newly completed Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) pipeline system.

Deliveries to Europe through the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, the consortium said, “marks the full integration of the entire SGC gas value chain, stretching 3,500 kilometers from Azerbaijan to Europe.”

“For the first time in history, Azerbaijan’s natural gas reached the European market through a direct pipeline connection,” the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) said in a statement, adding that the country’s gas has already arrived in Italy.

The giant Shah Deniz field off the coast of energy-rich Azerbaijan was discovered in 1999 and was estimated by BP to hold about one trillion cubic meters of natural gas.

The first phase to connect the field with Europe began in 1999, at a time when “some were skeptical about the project,” said SOCAR’s President Rovnag Abdullayev.

“Now the mission is accomplished,” he added. “Azerbaijan’s natural gas has arrived in Europe.”

“Coming from a new source through an alternative route, it will contribute to European energy security.”

Gary Jones, the head of BP in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, described Thursday’s announcement as a “historic milestone”, calling the new route a “direct, safe and reliable energy link.”

The European Union is heavily reliant on energy supplies from Russia and some countries within the bloc have called for diversifying supplies to reduce Moscow’s role.

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