LOS ANGELES, Nov. 20 -- Greece and Turkey Nov. 18 took a major step in linking Caspian Sea producers with west European consumers as Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan inaugurated a 178-mile pipeline link that will transport natural gas from Shah Deniz field off Azerbaijan.
The new line initially will carry 250 million cu m/year of gas from Karacabey, in western Turkey, to Komotini, in northeastern Greece. The line's capacity is expected to triple by 2012, when Poseidon, a 132-mile undersea pipeline between Italy and Greece begins operation (OGJ, Aug. 13, 2007, Newsletter).
US Energy Sec. Samuel Bodman, on hand for the inauguration ceremonies, welcomed the new line as an "extraordinary project" and a "critical new energy bridge" between the East and West.
"This Turkey-Greece Inter-Connector is a critical first step in a new energy supply chain, and it comes on line at a critically important time," Bodman said, adding that the European Union is the world's biggest gas import market and one of the world's fastest-growing.
"It is reasonable to expect that Europe's dependence on energy imports will continue to grow over the next 25 years, meaning that Azerbaijan and the rest of Central Asia is poised to become Europe's newest main source of supply, alongside the North Sea region, Russia, and North Africa," Bodman said.
Azerbaijan's President Ilkham Aliyev, also at the ceremonies, said his country is ready to implement projects aimed at expanding energy cooperation with the European Union.
"Energy cooperation between Azerbaijan and the European Union is just beginning," he said. "I am sure that in the years to come—and we have such plans—that the energy dialogue between Azerbaijan and Europe will gain in strength and there will be new projects."
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