The EU will have to get Turkey's consent for its quest to secure sufficient natural gas supplies ahead of winter by obtaining approval from Ankara for more gas supplies from Azerbaijan.
In the wake of the recent memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the EU and Azerbaijan to double natural gas purchases, an agreement signed back in 2012 between Ankara and Baku for supplies via the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) stipulates that Türkiye has the first right to additional pipeline capacity.
European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen and EC energy commissioner Kadri Simson signed an MoU late on Monday during their trip to Azerbaijan to double the current natural gas purchases from Baku.
Europe, which is heavily reliant on Russian gas, is working to replace Russian supplies and according to von der Leyen is “moving towards more reliable energy suppliers."
To wean off the 155 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Russia annually, Europe wants a capacity increase in the Southern Gas Corridor to buy much more gas from Azerbaijan.
However, additional investments are needed to increase gas flow to Europe from Azerbaijan, which has 1.3 trillion cubic meters of proven natural gas reserves, according to bp.
TANAP is the central part of the Southern Gas Corridor, which connects the giant Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan to Europe through the South Caucasus Pipeline and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).
Plans are afoot to double the annual capacity of the TAP bringing gas from Azerbaijan to Europe, the European leg of TANAP, from the current 10 billion cubic meters to 20 billion cubic meters.
Theoretically, it is possible to increase the capacity of TANAP from 16 billion cubic meters to 24 billion cubic meters and then to 31 billion cubic meters through investments, although this does not seem achievable in the next five years because although investments have been made for capacity increases, additional protocols and agreements are required.
Clauses 8 and 9 of Article 7 of the intergovernmental agreement signed between Türkiye and Azerbaijan on June 26, 2012, gives priority to Türkiye for capacity expansion and supply increase works related to TANAP.
The intergovernmental agreement clauses are as follows:
"7.8: The states expressly agree that all volumes of gas belonging to the Republic of Azerbaijan and planned to be shipped via the TANAP system in excess of an initial volume of sixteen (16) billion cubic meters per year will first be offered to buyers in the Republic of Türkiye.
7.9: The expansion of the TANAP system above the initial capacity of thirty-two (32) billion cubic meters per year shall be subject to the mutual agreement of the states."