Turkey will receive the first volumes of Azerbaijani gas through the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) before 2018, the original date when the pipeline was to be commissioned, according to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
The two leaders met in Baku on December 3 at a critical time for Turkey, which has been staving off the effects of a diplomatic standoff with Russia. Russia has begun enforcing economic sanctions on Turkey over an SU-24 plane that the latter shot down on November 24.
In addition to the sanctions on Turkish companies and exports related to textiles, construction, tourism and agriculture, Moscow announced that it was considering reducing its exports of liquefied petroleum gas to Turkey by as much as 25% in 2016. Russia is the second largest provider of LPG to Turkey. In turn, Ankara announced that it would seek to diversify its gas import base faster to include countries like Algeria, Nigeria, and Azerbaijan. In parallel to Davutoglu's visit to Baku, Turkish President Recep Tayipp Erdogan is visiting Qatar.
TANAP was originally designed to deliver 6bn cubic metres (bcm) of Azerbaijani gas to Turkey by 2018 and an additional 10bcm to Europe through the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TAP) by 2019.
“I am confident that this project will be implemented on time - in 2018, and possibly even earlier. Thus, Azerbaijan will be able to startexporting gas in even larger volumes first toTurkey, and then to Europe,” Aliyev said in a joint press conference with Davutoglu.
Azerbaijan maintains close commercial ties with Turkey and Russia, and Aliyev announced he was willing to contribute to placating the conflict. However, Azerbaijan's natural partner is Turkey, while with Russia it has a historical distrust over the latter's relations with and support for Armenia, Azerbaijan's neighbour and archenemy.
Prior to Davutoglu's visit, Turkish Foreign Minister Mehmet Cavusoglu visited Baku on November 27.
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