Monday, 12 October 2020 09:37

Forbes: A military clash between Armenia and Azerbaijan may be a prologue to a serious war

A military clash between Armenia and Azerbaijan may be a prologue to a serious war if other countries join the conflict.​ One of the possible consequences that will have global significance is the disruption of gas transit through Turkey, this opinion was voiced by the Director General of the National Energy Security Fund Konstantin Simonov in his article for Forbes.ru.

The military conflict in Karabakh this time does not look like a local clash, Forbes writes. It more and more reminds a prologue to a serious war, if not the war itself.

Surprisingly, the war in Karabakh began just on the eve of the full launch of the TANAP-TAP system. The first part of this project was launched in 2018 (Turkey just receives Azerbaijani gas via TANAP), and now the work on TAP (Trans-Adriatic gas pipeline) is almost completed. It is through TAP that Azerbaijani gas should reach Italy.

However, in fact, the Southern Gas Corridor starts with the South Caucasus gas pipeline (SCP) whose operation may be at stake. The Karabakh conflict provides an opportunity to remind Europeans that Turkey creates not only opportunities for the transit of alternative gas, but also generates significant risks, the author of Forbes.ru believes.

Details of gas contracts signed by Europeans (primarily Italians) turned out to be very profitable for Azerbaijan. The EU said back then that there would no longer be long-term contracts linked to the price of oil, but such contracts were signed with Baku. In addition, Azerbaijan got an exclusive right to use the TAP gas pipeline: its competitors (and this, by the way, could be Russian gas) will not be allowed to join the pipe. Yes, 16 billion cubic meters — 6 billion for Turkey, 8 billion for Italy, 1 billion for Greece and Bulgaria are not such huge volumes, but there is an opportunity to revive the idea of the Southern Gas Corridor in a mini-format.

Turkey is actually one of the most diversified countries in Europe in terms of gas supplies. It has three sources of pipeline gas supplies (Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran), as well as four LNG import terminals. At the same time, Russian gas is supplied under long-term contracts linked to oil. Therefore, prices for it became quite high as early as 2019. At the same time, Europe and Turkey continue to receive cheap — cheap just at the moment, due to the coronavirus and the unwillingness of LNG players to stop their business of liquefied gas which partially replaces the traditional import of pipeline gas. In 2020, Azerbaijan became the largest gas supplier to Turkey.

Turkey is beginning to have a serious debt accumulated for violating "take or pay"contracts. At the same time, only part of Gazprom's contracts is signed with the Turkish state-owned company Botas which has contracted about 20 billion cubic meters per year. Though Botas reduced gas takeoff by 4.7 billion cubic meters in 2019 compared to 2018, it still remained within the limits of the "take or pay" obligations»(75% of the contract volume). So this year, the state company Botas is for the first time going to disrupt contracts, Forbes writes.

By the way, the completion of the continuation of the second line of the "Turkish stream" in Austria is actively underway. The Bulgarian section has difficulties, but still heads to the finish line, and the Serbian one is already completed.

As we can see, our gas relations with Turkey are very difficult. However, we also have levers of influence. Moscow can respond through a number of issues that are sensitive for Ankara, and these are primarily political issues. In Syria, the situation with the Kurds is an extremely painful topic for Ankara. The second story is Libya, where Erdogan believes that he will outplay the Russian bid for Haftar. Now there is Karabakh with very unclear prospects, the author believes.

The aggressive line of the Ankara-Baku Alliance may cause a mixed reaction in the West, where an influential Armenian community exists in many countries. Especially since Turkey has just quarreled with Greece and Cyprus over the issue of controlling the waters with potential hydrocarbon deposits in the Eastern Mediterranean. The opposing military forces of the countries are in close proximity to each other, and excesses of a military nature are absolutely not excluded. Turkey is also facing a standoff with France over the issue of clarifying the Libyan borders at sea. In fact, Turkey has turned against itself the entire EU, which clearly supports its members, forbes.ru writes.

 

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