By Gretta Willenberg and Vugar Seidov
Last November, the town of Ipsala on the Turkish-Greek border welcomed two leaders – President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan. The handshake under the flashes of hundreds of cameramen symbolized the formal completion of the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP). And, possibly, the beginning of a new era.
It was the keystone moment not only for the two nations. Europe waited for this day too: the inaugurated pipeline will help to reduce its dependence on gas from Siberia. And that is exactly what President Erdoğan chose to underline in his speech: “Aside from insuring the energy needs of our country with TANAP, we aimed to contribute to Europe’s energy supply security”.
What do we know about TANAP other than its budget of $6.5 billion? Well, the first fact to remember is that it is part of the $40 billion Southern Gas Corridor, which is designed to deliver natural gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to the European customers. TANAP, which is the longest section of the Southern Gas Corridor, runs all the way through Turkey from the east to west. No wonder the abbreviation stands for Trans-Anatolian Pipeline. After it reaches the Greek border, it connects to the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which, after its completion, will take the gas further to Europe through the territories and littoral waters of Greece, Albania and Italy. That’s about the geography.
The second set of facts deals with capacity. TANAP is designed to carry 16 billion cubic meters (bcm) a year, all coming from Azerbaijan. Out of this volume, Europe will receive 10 bcm (mainly through TAP, which has the capacity of exactly 10 bcm), while the other 6 bcm arriving to TANAP is meant for the Turkish market. Interestingly, 16 bcm is not its upper capacity. With additional investment, it can be increased as high as 31 bcm.
In his speech at the inauguration ceremony, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan encouaged Turkey’s neighbors on the other side of the border to complete the construction of TAP completed as soon as possible to start the transfer of gas to Europe.
Finally, the stakeholders: TANAP is owned by Azerbaijan’s SOCAR state company (51%), Turkish pipeline operator BOTAS (30%), BP (12%) and SOCAR Turkey (7%). With Nabucco having been buried years ago, TANAP-TAP is becoming the reality of the 21st century.