Azerbaijan set to boost gas supply to Europe this year, double capacity in future

BAKU, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Azerbaijan plans to boost natural gas supplies this year and pump 16.2 billion cubic metres (bcm) via the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP), mainly to Europe, and almost double its capacity in the future, the consortium's head said on Wednesday.

The European Union this month said it was seeking more gas from Azerbaijan as Europe grapples with high energy bills and tight deliveries from Russia, its main supplier of fuel.

Concern over disruption of Russian fuel escalated this week following Russia's recognition of two separatist areas in eastern Ukraine that has triggered western sanctions. read more

Measures against Moscow included Germany's decision to halt the certification process of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, which helped to drive gas prices, especially for future delivery, higher.

Baku is offering the TANAP as an alternative supply option in its rivalry with Moscow for the lucrative European market.

"At the moment the TANAP pipeline is operating at 100% of its capacity," said consortium head Saltuk Duzyol. "We have already reached a plateau in transporting gas for Turkey's needs and deliver 5.7 bcm annually.

"Overall this year we plan to supply 16.2 bcm of gas to Turkey and Europe," he said, implying deliveries of 10.5 bcm to Europe.

Duzyol said plans to increase capacity to 23.7 bcm in the second phase and then 31 bcm in the third phase would take four to five years, with additional construction required.

TANAP comprises the longest stretch of the Southern Gas Corridor, a series of pipelines that carries gas from Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz II field.

Reporting by Nailia Bagirova; Writing by Alexander Marrow; editing by Barbara Lewis

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