The 5th Ministerial Meeting of the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) Advisory Council was held on 20 February, in Baku, the Republic of Azerbaijan. The Romanian delegation, at the second participation to this important event, is led by Iulian-Robert Tudorache, Secretary of State within the Ministry of Energy. The event marks the significant progress made by this important infrastructure project for Europe’s energy security, since the last meeting, organized in February 2018. In his speech, Secretary of State Tudorache highlighted Romania’s support for the successful implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor project and the active involvement of our country by adding new infrastructure elements, such as the Giurgiu-Ruse Interconnector and the BRUA gas pipeline, which can be an efficient and secure transmission link, in the future expansion stages of the Southern Corridor to the Balkans and Central Europe.
The event brought together European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources Gunther Oettinger, Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Fatih Donmez, UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Azerbaijan Baroness Emma Nicholson, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of energy resources Sandra Oudkirk and others. Large delegations of a number of companies, including BP, TANAP, TAP, Snam, Fluxys, LNG Croatia, Plinarco, ICGB AD, Romgaz and Transgaz attended the Advisory Council meeting.
During the meeting, the prospects of Romania’s joining the SGC were discussed.
The delegation of the Romanian Ministry of Energy, representatives of the Romanian companies Transgaz and Romgaz visited Azerbaijan’s Energy Ministry.
Iulian-Robert Tudorache mentioned that he is participating in the ministerial meeting as part of the SGC Advisory Council for the second time, and highlighted his country’s support for this project. He also added that the Bulgaria-Romania Interconnector and the BRUA project will play an important role in the expansion of the Southern Gas Corridor to Central Asia in the future. Romania is interested in becoming part of the Southern Gas Corridor in the future through these projects.
According to AzerNews Energy Minister of Azerbaijan Parviz Shahbazov highly appreciated this position of Romania and spoke about the prospects for expanding the Southern Gas Corridor by increasing its capacity in the future. The minister said that the project being implemented by Azerbaijan will allow diversifying the main export directions for producing and importing countries – for consumers in the future.
During the conversation, confidence was expressed that the strategic partnership relations between Azerbaijan and Romania will serve the interests of both countries in the energy sector.
At the same meeting, the sides also discussed the possibility of cooperation of the Romanian energy companies with Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR.
Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR has played an important role in the Romanian distribution market since 2011 through its subsidiary SOCAR Petroleum. The company has 40 filling stations in 18 Romanian regions.
Romgaz and Transgaz, two of the most important Romanian companies in the natural gas sector, have long-standing cooperation relationships with SOCAR.
Recently, SOCAR has expressed its interest in cooperation with Romgaz in exploration and production of gas in the Black Sea, while Romanian company voiced its intention to cooperate with SOCAR both on the onshore area of Azerbaijan and on the offshore area in the Caspian Sea as well.
Romania and Azerbaijan also cooperate in the implementation of AGRI (Azerbaijan-Georgia-Romania Interconnector) energy project which is aimed at diversifying the energy supply sources of the European Union and involves the transport of Azerbaijani natural gas to Romania and Central Europe.
AGRI project envisages transportation of Azerbaijani gas to the Black Sea coast of Georgia via gas pipelines. Azerbaijani gas delivered to Georgia’s Black Sea coast will be liquefied at a special terminal and following this, it will be delivered in tankers to a terminal at the Romanian port of Constanta.
AGRI highlights the important contribution that liquefied natural gas (LNG) could bring to the EU’s energy security in line with the objectives of the European Commission Strategy for LNG and natural gas deposits.
Furthermore, AGRI may be considered as additional supply route for the BRUA interconnector (which is expected to connect the natural gas transmission systems between Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria) currently under execution. The countries, engaged in the BRUA project may take over some of the gas volumes that could be available through the Southern Corridor’s infrastructure.
Earlier, Transgaz and SOCAR signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that envisages strengthening cooperation in the gas transportation, studying opportunities to use Romania’s potential in the gas transit and distribution at the expense of gas supplies from Azerbaijan, the Caspian region and other promising directions, jointly studying the possibilities of cooperation in the supply and trading of natural gas and LNG in the Romanian market on the basis of long-term contracts and spot trading as part of the AGRI project.
Once the link between the SGC and the Vertical Gas Corridor will be physically established, Caspian gas volumes could be delivered to the Romanian, to the neighbouring and to the Central European gas markets.
Romania has been the first EU Member State to establish a Strategic Partnership with Azerbaijan in 2009 that provided both countries with a solid framework to develop the bilateral contacts and cooperation in various fields.
ROMGAZ supports completion of the SGC as a first step of national strategic intentions
On the fifth annual meeting of the SGC Advisory Council, Romgaz restated its support for the development of the Southern Gas Corridor, while considering to continue the transmission infrastructure by finalising the Bulgarian-Romanian Interconnector and BRUA project, in the context of developing the relationship with Azerbaijan and the potential partnership with SOCAR.
Romgaz CEO, Adrian Volintiru signed the ‘Letter of Intent’ addressed to SGC Advisory Council, chaired by the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev. Romgaz expressed in this formal letter the interest to analyse the opportunity to use the Southern Corridor infrastructure to secure natural gas supply safety and the possibility to diversify the gas sources both for our country and for neighbouring countries as well.