Inteligencia y Seguridad Frente Externo En Profundidad Economia y Finanzas Transparencia
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21/11/2007 | Europe - A New Pipeline, a Different Direction

Stratfor Staff

The first Russia-independent natural gas pipeline from the Caspian region to Europe opened Nov. 18. The Turkey-Greece Interconnector (TGI) has been in the works for several years, and construction on the line's final section connecting to Italy under the Adriatic Sea is scheduled to start in early 2008, with completion anticipated by 2012. The pipeline has a capacity of 11.5 billion cubic meters per year.

 

The European Union has pushed the TGI financially and politically as Europe works to liberate itself from Russian energy supplies. Russia currently supplies 26 percent of the European Union's natural gas and has not been afraid to use this resource as a political tool.

The European Union has been interested in Azerbaijan as a fuel supplier for some time. The West already has the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline -- the first large pipeline aimed at bypassing Russian supplies -- flowing. The natural gas running through the TGI line comes from Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz field, which is operated by British energy giant BP and Norwegian oil company Statoil. TGI is a win-win for Europe and Azerbaijan; just as the European Union is looking to reduce its dependence on Russian supplies, Baku is looking for ways to export without using Russian pipelines.

The TGI line will diminish Russia's dominance over European energy supplies further when it extends into Italy because it will do so via a company that is not beholden to Moscow. Currently, Italian energy giant ENI has a near-monopoly over the country's natural gas and related infrastructure. ENI also is closely tied to Russian natural gas behemoth Gazprom; ENI even holds a seat on Gazprom's board. But when the TGI is extended, it will be under small Italian natural gas company Edison, which is expected to have complete control over the natural gas supplies from the TGI line. Russia has enjoyed a long and close relationship with Italy through energy, but the TGI will begin picking away at that.

The completion of the TGI pipeline also is a message to Russia that Central Asian natural gas is
not wholly dependent on Russian transportation networks. This could jeopardize Russia's contracts with Europe, since the country depends on Central Asian natural gas to fill its lines. Although the volume of natural gas to be shipped through the TGI pipeline is relatively small, it is a successful sign of the EU movement to diversify.

Stratfor (Estados Unidos)

 



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