Azerbaijan seeks to expand natural gas supplies to Europe

Azerbaijan is willing to expand its natural gas supplies to Europe, President Ilham Aliyev said Wednesday, amid the continent’s deepening energy crisis driven by soaring demand.

The energy-rich Caspian nation is currently supplying 10 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year to Italy, Greece and Bulgaria through the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) via Georgia and Turkey.

“Azerbaijan began natural gas supplies to Europe in 2020 and we can become a natural gas supplier to other European countries as well,” Aliyev told the European Union’s newly appointed ambassador to Baku.

European and UK gas prices surged Wednesday by more than 25 percent, driven by soaring demand ahead of the northern hemisphere winter.

Europe’s energy crisis has also been exacerbated by a lack of wind for turbine sites, coupled with ongoing nuclear outages — and the winding down of coal mines by climate-conscious governments.

Runaway gas prices — coupled with oil that this week struck multi-year highs — have fuelled global concern over spiking inflation.

Azerbaijan began natural gas supplies to Europe at the end of December from the Shah Deniz field off the Caspian coast through the SGC.

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

Critics have accused Moscow of intentionally limiting gas supplies to Europe in an effort to hasten the launch of Nord Stream 2, a controversial pipeline connecting Russia with Germany.

The Kremlin on Wednesday said Russia has no role in Europe’s gas crisis.