Turkey connects Europe, Asia with major gas line TANAP

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Azerbaijani counterpart İlham Aliyev attend the opening ceremony of Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP)-Europe connection in Turkey's Edirne province, on Nov. 30, 2019. (AA Photo)

Turkey reaffirms its central role in regional energy security with the successful completion of the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline and its connection to Europe at the Turkish-Greek border, ready to pump Azerbaijani gas to European markets directly for the first time
The Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) has made history by forming the first pipeline to deliver natural gas from Azerbaijan through Turkey and on to Greece, the first stop in its European leg Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).

“Today, were are proud to top off 7 and a half-years of long and difficult process with ultimate success in the joint efforts of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Saturday in an address at the inauguration ceremony for the TANAP-Europe connection held at the border city of Edirne.

Referring to TANAP, which began operating in June 2018, as the backbone of the multinational Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) project, Erdoğan praised the pipeline’s completion and lauded the spirit of cooperation between partner countries, which remained strong despite many hurdles.

Dubbed the “Silk Road” of energy, both TANAP and TAP are the parts of a multinational natural gas project worth $8.5 billion Southern Gas Corridor (SGC), supported by European Commission and financed by World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

“The rich natural resources we possess are now shared with the people of our countries and other nations in the region,” Erdoğan remarked and continued, “TANAP does not only guarantee Turkey’s energy security but aims to bolster the energy supply security of European countries as well.

The 3,500 kilometers-long SGC consists of three sections; the South Caucasus Pipeline, TANAP and TAP. The Turkish leg of the project TANAP passes through around 600 villages before it reaches the border, where it will go on to pump energy to European markets.

The map shows progress across three key construction stages along TAP’s route. (Source: Trans Adriatic Pipeline project)
The map shows progress across three key construction stages along TAP’s route. (Source: Trans Adriatic Pipeline project)

The 4.5 billion euros ($5.1 billion) TAP transverses Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea destined for Italy. Azerbaijani gas is expected to reach European markets by the second half of next year and currently more than 90% of the project has been completed.

The 1,850 kilometers-long TANAP carries Azerbaijani gas from the Shah Deniz-2 field and other fields in the southern Caspian Sea to Turkish, Georgian and European markets. While Turkey receives 6 billion cubic meters of gas, an additional 10 billion cubic meters will be transferred to the European gas network.

Azerbaijani President İlham Aliyev also stressed in an address that TANAP would bring peace and prosperity to the region. “I believe TANAP will have long-serving life and it will bring peace and prosperity to Turkish, Azerbaijani and regional people,” Aliyev said.

Drawing attention to the significance of energy supply security and how the global agenda is preoccupied with the issue, the Azerbaijani president indicated that TANAP highlights the mediatory role of energy cooperation.

“We cannot see TANAP and the SGC as purely energy infrastructure projects, these projects pave the way for other cooperation mechanisms and platforms. Our energy projects have already spawned more other that contribute to the regional development and stability,” Aliyev said.

Eastern Mediterranean tensions

In reference to events in the Eastern Mediterranean, where disputes have surfaced regarding oil exploration rights, Erdoğan emphasized that certain regional actors were striving to fuel the tension rather than working on ensuring a fair share of the hydrocarbon resources in the region.

“Threatening talk and blackmail-like policies have come to the fore when there is a chance for an equitable sharing of resources. Yet, no country is above international law. It needs to be recognized that no party can reach a result by taking an issue as a fait accompli,” Erdoğan said.

The president further stressed that Turkey would never allow any state to disregard the sovereign rights of the Turkish people and those of Turkish Cypriots. He claimed that it would not be possible to carry out any projects that exclude Turkey, given the country presides over the longest coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Two Turkish drilling vessels, the Fatih and the Yavuz, along with the country’s two other seismic vessels, are currently conducting exploration operations in the region. “Our drilling operations will become a source of peace and prosperity. Therefore, I call on all parties in the Eastern Mediterranean to make energy a grounds for cooperation, not an instrument of conflict,” Erdoğan said.

Turkey, as a guarantor nation to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and supporter of its right to Eastern Mediterranean resources. Greek Cyprus has unilaterally declared a total of 13 what it refers to as the parcels of the Eastern Mediterranean as its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and allowed international oil and drilling companies to operate in these areas, which are anticipated to hold rich hydrocarbon reserves.

However, the majority of these parcels clash with the EEZ declared by the TRNC, the Greek Cypriot administration ignoring the fundamental right of the TRNC to a share of the island’s resources. Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the TRNC also has rights to the resources in the area. The unilaterally declared EEZ of the Greek Cypriot administration violates part of Turkey’s continental shelf, particularly in Blocks 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7.

No more supply security problem for Turkey

“The 1,850-kilometer long Anatolian journey of TANAP has ended today and the gas’ European journey begins,” Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez in his speech at the ceremony.

“We are now ready for the gas flow to Europe. From here on in, we entrust the project to our European friends,” Dönmez added. The minister emphasized that TANAP will meet the strength of the Turkey-Azerbaijan cooperation with new countries and new people. “TANAP is not just an energy project, it is a story of success. This project is vital not only for Turkey’s but for Europe’s energy supply security as well,” the minister stressed, adding that it will have major contribution to the energy future of both Turkey and Europe.

Dönmez stressed that thanks to TANAP, Turkey would now be left with no energy supply problem, indicating that Turkey would move forward with more gas investments on its path of becoming energy hub. He underscored that Turkey would pursue win-win oriented energy policy and that its energy diplomacy aimed to boost regional prosperity.

Azerbaijani gas in Europe for first time

After the completion of the construction of TAP, Azerbaijan’s gas will be transmitted directly from the Caspian Basin to the European markets for the first time in history, said SOCAR President and TANAP Chairman of the Board Rovnag Abdullayev. “Thus, in addition to being Europe’s new gas supplier, we aim to become Turkey’s second-largest gas supplier,” he noted.