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Map of the Republic of Azerbaijan

President Ilham Aliyev

President Ilham Aliyev of the Republic of Azerbaijan...May not be competing with Russia, but can his country deliver EU from the Russian Monopoly?

Natiq Aliyev

Natig Aliyev, Azerbaijan's Energy Minister...A strategist in Government.

For years, Europe has been experiencing energy crises due to Russia's inconsiderate demand to own and control pipelines in the EU territory, which was counteracted with the Union's Third Energy Package. Lawsuits were filed with the World Trade Organization which further fuelled the deteriorating oil and gas security in Europe. Taxpayers' monies have been put into new interconnectors as a contingency plan in case, Russia ever cuts off their supplies, which is quite possible given the history between the two regions.

 

Another reason why Europe is exploring new options is because of their reliance on a Russian pipeline that passes through Ukraine. In the past nine years, gas deliveries have been interrupted thrice due to political disputes between Kiev and Moscow.

 

Any delays in deliveries can potentially cause major problems in the Union as they import almost 90 percent of their oil, 60 percent of their gas, and 42 percent of their coal from Russia. To reduce their dependency on a somewhat unreliable source, they've turned their attention to the Middle East, where oil and gas are more abundant compared to the rest world.

Despite the oil crisis that started a year ago, a number of international oil and engineering companies still managed to expand operations in a time of volatility and turbulence, one of them being UnaOil which opened an equipment service facility in Iraq so that they could increase efficiency in oil drilling and refining. With the region being able to sustain production during a vulnerable time for commodities, Europe is now sourcing a portion of their energy from Azerbaijan, offering them new opportunities for production. Azerbaijan Energy Minister Natig Aliyev shares that his country is becoming a key energy player in the world as he explains that their Trans-Anatolian Pipeline can transport fuel from Iran and other nations in the region and bring it all the way to Europe.

What all this means is that Europe could be importing gas from nations such as Iran, Iraq, Turkmenistan, Israel, and Cyprus. The EU needs to forge more connections to the oil rich fields of the Middle East, and Azerbaijan is the key to them diversifying their energy imports.