OREANDA-NEWS. The European Union has taken an important step towards it's strategic goal of diversifying natural gas suppliers and delivery routes to reduce it's dependence on Gazprom company and Russia. The operator of the Trans Adriatic pipeline (TAP), which runs from the Turkish border through Greece, Albania and the Adriatic sea to Italy, announced the start of commercial deliveries of Azerbaijani gas to the EU after four and a half years of construction.

Thus, the European Union on the second attempt (the Nabucco project had to be buried) secured the opportunity to receive gas from the Caspian sea region independently of Russia. So far, TAP's capacity is limited to 10 billion cubic meters per year, but the Trans Adriatic pipeline's capacity of 878 km can be doubled to 20 billion cubic meters in the future.

For comparison, the unfinished Russian gas pipeline "Nord stream-2" is much more powerful — it's two lines are designed for 55 billion cubic meters. At the same time, the second line of the Turkish stream, intended to supply the countries of South-Eastern Europe and to a large extent competing with TAP, has a comparable capacity of 15.75 billion cubic meters.

Russia will have to compete with Azerbaijan for the Italian market, which after Germany is the most important market for gas sales in the most important Western export direction for the Russian company. In 2019, Italy bought 22.1 billion cubic meters from Gazprom, but next year this country may receive about 7-8 billion Azerbaijani gas via the southern gas corridor (the remaining 2-3 billion will be divided between Greece, Albania and Bulgaria).