The groundbreaking ceremony of the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) project, which will carry Azeri natural gas to the European market, took place yesterday. Held in the Selim district of Kars in northeastern Turkey, it was attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev and Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili.
The TANAP project aims to provide energy supply security for Turkey and Europe – a key point frequently addressed during the speeches at the ceremony. Speaking at the ceremony, Erdoğan said that this project will be known for the peace and security it provides, as opposed to conflict for which oil and natural gas projects are often remembered. Erdoğan also stressed that Turkey never initiates projects to the damnification of other countries. "I believe we showed a new approach to how natural resources are used," said the president, and added he hopes that TANAP will transport peace and cooperation in addition to natural resources. Alluding to the Turkish Stream Project, whose negations have begun after the cancellation of the South Stream Project, Erdoğan emphasized that Turkey will continue to work with other countries on energy. However, the TANAP project is not an alternative project, and likewise, there is no alternative projects to TANAP.
European Commissioner Maros Sefcovic who also spoke at the ceremony, and said that as a part of the Southern Gas Pipeline project, TANAP demonstrates that obstacles can be overcome, and it gives courage and hope to the EU that other upcoming projects will also be achieved.
When he took the stand at the ceremony, Aliyev said the brotherhood shared by Azerbaijan and Turkey creates a strategic partnership. He said that Shah Deniz has proved its name with the great potential it has, which is estimated to be a capacity of 2.6 trillion cubic meters of natural gas.
TANAP will be operated by the Azeri energy company SOCAR, which currently holds a 58 percent stake in the project. Turkey's state-owned energy operator BOTAŞ owns 30 percent, while British Petroleum (BP) undertook 12 percent of the project with an agreement signed last week. The TANAP project's operating company will be headquartered in the Netherlands, and the cost of the project is estimated at between $10 billion and $11 billion.
The Turkish, Azeri and Georgian presidents each pushed a button that automatically placed the first pipe of the project in the ground.
The TANAP project will deliver natural gas originating from the Shah Deniz 2 gas field of Azerbaijan to Europe after passing through 20 cities in Turkey and 1,850 km of pipeline, with 19 km under the Sea of Marmara. The project will use approximately 1.3 million tons of steel pipes, and around 1.1 million tons of the required steel will be produced by Turkish steel producers – 80 percent in total. Moreover, the project is expected to provide employment for more than 15,000 people. Following the agreement signed in June 2012, the project called the "Silk Road of Energy" has reached the groundbreaking phase and the start of construction. TANAP will begin from the village of Türkgözü of the Posof district of Ardahan right next to the Georgian border and terminate in the Ipsala district of Edirne near the Greek border. From here, it will link up to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) that will deliver gas to European countries. In the framework of the project, there will be two outlets for connecting to the national natural gas network within Turkey – one in Eskisehir and the other in Thrace.
The gas will flow through TANAP beginning in 2018. The transport capacity, which will initially be 16 billion cubic meters per year, will be increased gradually, first to 24 billion cubic meters and then to 31 billion cubic meters. TANAP will be the natural gas pipeline project with the greatest length and radius to be constructed on Turkish territory so far.
The TANAP project is a prime example of the successful collaborative projects undertaken by Turkey and Azerbaijan in the field of energy. Augmenting and sustaining their historical bonds of brotherhood with the modern ideal of "two states, one nation," both Turkey and Azerbaijan place great importance on the TANAP project, which will have repercussions for the global energy market. The two fraternal countries, which undertake various giant joint investments, have long-standing strategic collaboration in the field of energy that has gained momentum with the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Oil Pipeline and the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum Natural Gas Pipeline projects. This collaboration will become more extensive with the TANAP project, which aims to meet the natural gas demands of Turkey and Europe as well as to ensure gas supply diversity in the region.