The Caspian region has tremendous potential to supply Europe with additional pipeline gas supplies and LNG, believes Claudio Steuer, Director of SyEnergy, a UK energy consultant focused on strategy and commercial matters involving natural gas and LNG value chains.
He noted that a world scale LNG plant could be developed for Caspian gas supplies to Europe, for example, in the existing oil terminal of Ceyhan in close cooperation with Turkey.
“As a matter of fact, Azerbaijan’s political and economic leadership in the Caspian region can significantly game change the fortunes of the country and that of Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, by developing a Marine CNG link, creating a de facto Caspian Gas Hub in Baku – and enabling greater gas exports via pipeline and the development of an LNG export project,” Steuer told.
He noted that all the essential building blocks for development of the Caspian Gas Hub are in place - Azerbaijan has sufficient gas reserves, the support of the European Union to continue to provide diversity of supply and route to member states, and a strategic relationship with Turkey to progress with the first LNG train de-risking further expansions of the larger project.
“Once the first phase of the project becomes real, it will be much easier to link up Azerbaijan with Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan via marine CNG bypassing decades long of geopolitical opposition from Russia and Iran, interested in pushing ahead with their own natural gas and LNG monetization projects and securing valuable gas markets ahead of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan,” Steuer said.
According to the expert, besides additional natural gas and potential LNG supplies from the Caspian Region, Europe stands to benefit significantly from the massive gas finds in the Eastern Mediterranean countries of Egypt, Israel and Cyprus. He noted that once those countries agree on the development projects to supply the domestic and export markets, Europe should have additional options to receive natural gas supplies via pipeline, marine CNG and LNG.
“Caspian countries need to organize themselves with a sense of urgency if they are going to benefit from this limited “window of opportunity” and diversify the markets for their natural gas resources beyond Russia and China,” Steuer said.
The consultant noted that it is of strategic importance for Azerbaijan to capitalize in the current economic ineffectiveness of US LNG supply into Europe, and the West rapprochement efforts with Iran.
“It is hard to imagine a better timing for Azerbaijan to launch a bold energy vision for the next 20 years to unleash sustainable growth and place the Caspian Region in the appropriate energy leadership position commensurate with the collective natural gas reserves held. Failure to launch such bold energy initiative means accepting that a significant portion of the gas reserves will remain undeveloped or will be sub optimally commercialized serving Russian and Chinese interests,” he said.
World media monitoring