London — The EU wants to see the Southern Gas Corridor -- designed to bring gas from Azerbaijan into southern Europe to reduce the region's dependence on Russian imports -- extended northward into the Western Balkans, a senior EU official said Dec. 18.
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Representatives from the EU and Azerbaijan met Dec. 18 in Brussels as part of their cooperation council.
The $40 billion Southern Gas Corridor comprises the 16 Bcm/year BP-operated Shah Deniz 2 field offshore Azerbaijan, the expanded South Caucasus Pipeline via Georgia, the TANAP pipeline in Turkey and the 10 Bcm/year TAP link to Italy.
The system is now complete with first gas expected to flow to Italy via TAP before year-end.
"Building on the important progress made this year in finalizing the Southern Gas Corridor, we are keen on exploring its possible extension to the Western Balkans," the European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi, said in a statement.
The Western Balkans covers countries such as Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Kosovo.
There are plans for a 5 Bcm/year pipeline -- the Ionian Adriatic Pipeline (IAP) -- that would connect to TAP in Albania to the Croatian grid via Montenegro, with a spur into Bosnia and Herzegovina.
There has been only limited gasification to date in the region, but gas for use in power generation is seen as a way to eliminate coal-fired generation.
The total length of the gas pipeline from the Albanian town of Fier to link to the Croatian grid is 511 km.
It could also operate in reverse mode, sending gas southward from Croatia, which from next year will be able to import LNG via its new floating terminal at Krk.
A ministerial declaration on the project was signed back in 2007, but there has been only limited progress since then.