English / ქართული / русский /

Journal number 1 ∘ Zurab Garakanidze
The demonopolization of the gas market should not be stopped by the Turan Gate


Expanded Summary

The last link of the EU "Southern Gas Corridor" completed on December 31, 2020. This completes the preparatory phase of the latest project of the EU's most important corridor to Georgia - the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which started in early November 2020 and began the alternative delivery of the Azerbaijani Shah Deniz pipeline to Russia, an alternative delivery of Russian Gazprom to Europe. The RF energy policy have planned against this goal for the last 30 years, and it is likely that the popularization of the idea of ​​the "Turan Gate" activated after the Karabakh conflict will be directed against the energy corridor to Georgia. In this article, we want to show you the process of creating an "energy corridor" full of these contradictions and highlight some new challenges that the "corridor" is likely to face in the process of functioning.

Prior to the start of regional trans-Caspian projects, a fully loaded Baku-Akhalkalaki-Kars railway for Turkey-Azerbaijan economic cooperation is sufficient. However, there are forces in Turkey that consider Georgia to be an unstable transit country and these forces want to bring a new transit corridor from Igdir to the Caspian Sea in the form of the "Turan Gate". What security guarantees does this corridor have?

The main problem in this regard is funding. Azerbaijan will build a highway and a railway along the Araks River, which will be expensive, but with the help of Turkey. But the construction of hydrocarbon pipelines to Erzurum (to connect to the BTC oil pipeline and the TANAP gas pipeline) from the Caspian fields controlled by Western companies will inevitably be difficult in the light of the recent unprecedented strain in Turkey-EU and Turkey-US relations.

After the Russia-Georgia war, Russia also used its "energy weapon" on the European energy market to reduce criticism of the invasion of Georgia. That is why, in November 2008, Brussels approved the EU's Second Energy Action Plan - Energy Security and Solidarity Action Plan. Its essence is to create a system of decarbonized, interconnected pipelines of EU member states, e.g. წ. Trans-European Network (TEN). At the same time, the "Common Rules of the Game" of the member states were defined in the negotiations with the third party on energy projects, i.e. the mechanism of "common interest projects" (PCI) was created, which prohibits member states from concluding energy supply and transit agreements without Brussels.

The second strong step in this direction was taken by Brussels on 8 May 2009 at the EU Prague Summit. In particular, the summit adopted the historic document "Southern Corridor - New Silk Road" (by the way, this term was not first used in Astana in 2013 by Chinese President Xi Jinping as it is widely used, but it was first uttered in Prague, 4 years before Astana) in which, along with the Caspian and Middle Eastern countries, Georgia was also considered. The document identifies four strategic projects, worth $ 40 billion, for the EU Southern Gas Corridor (EU SGC): the South Caucasus Gas Pipeline (SCP) later renamed the South Caucasus Enhanced Gas Pipeline (SCPX), Interconnector Turkey-Greece-Italy (ITGI), Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) and White Stream. The latter project most affected by the subsequent annexation of Crimea and Abkhazia, as it involved the Georgia-Ukraine (Crimea) -Romania route and was more profitable for the EU than other projects, as it limited Turkey's "transit ambitions" and Ankara's pressure on Brussels. Weakening levers. In addition, because of pressure from Russian Gazprom, the interconnector ITGI underwent a change - instead Turkey and the European Union designed "trans-Anatolian" and "Trans-Adriatic" gas pipelines.

Gazprom has not represented in the Shah Deniz consortium. Its shareholders are: British BP Exploration (Shah Deniz) Limited (28.8%), Turkish TPAO (19.0%), Azerbaijani SOCAR (16.7%), Malaysian PETRONAS (15.5%), Russian LUKOIL (10.0%) and Iranian NICO (10.0%) . Significantly, TAP has six shareholders - Azerbaijani SOCAR (20%), British BP (20%), Italian Snam (20%), Spanish Enagas (16%), Belgian Fluxys (19%) and Swiss Axpo (5%). Two of them: SOCAR and BP - are represented in the Shah Deniz consortium, and four - European companies, which excludes conflicts of interest between suppliers and distributors.

Shah Deniz field is about 860 square meters. Kilometers; the field was discovered in 1999 - initially reserves were about 1 trillion cubic meters of gas and 2 billion barrels of condensate. At present, 130 billion cubic meters have extracted from this deposit. More than a meter of gas and more than 31 million tons of condensate.

The first phase of Shah Deniz began in 2006 and it has 10 billion cubic meters per year. It supplied more than a meter of gas to Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. In 2021, another 16 billion cubic meters added from the second phase of the Shah Deniz field, which will increase the total extraction to 26 billion cubic meters.

Therefore, an additional 16 billion cubic meters of gas through the South Caucasus Gas Pipeline (SCPX) will flow to Georgia, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Albania and Italy. Georgia will receive 5% of the exported gas at half-international price and 5% - free of charge. At the same time, it is important that in addition to economic, the launch of the "Southern Gas Corridor" also have a political effect.

In Central Asian countries, unlike in the 1990s, Turkey is no longer either a major investor or a major trading partner. The main players in this region is no longer Turkey, but there are China and Russia. Even in the case of trans-Caspian projects success, majority volumes of Central Asian gas will go to China and Russia, not to Turkey, and will continue to do so, as Chinese and Russian state-owned companies have acquired licenses for most of the region's gas fields. China and Russia are rooting for pan-Turkic solidarity in Central Asia, as they see it as a major promoter of Muslim separatism in their Xinjiang Uyghur (China) and Volga-North Caucasus (Russia) regions.

The same underlined about Turkey's participation in the One Road One Belt (OBOR) global project. Ankara's aggressive regime has conflicts both in the neighborhood and in other Mediterranean regions. The desire to involve Turkey in the OBOR project in Central Asia, amid the conflicts discussed above, is likely to complicate Ankara's already strained relations with Moscow and Beijing.

The above arguments that give us reason to say that the Turan Gate is a theoretical "make-up" of the well-forgotten project of the old "Great Turan" and not an economically justified reality.