Southern Gas Corridor update: Russian involvement increasingly evident

TAP shareholders have stated they would welcome Gazprom’s use of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline. (Image by Thawt Hawthje – CC BY 2.0)

While new public finance for the Southern Gas Corridor is lining up, the European Commission’s narrative that the pipeline would relieve Europe’s dependence on Russian gas continues to crumble.

— By Ido Liven, originally published by Banwkatch —

Another chunk of EU public money could soon be going to the Russian component of the Southern Gas Corridor, a system of mega-pipelines to bring gas from Azerbaijan to Europe.

Tomorrow (July 18), the EBRD board is expected to vote on a new loan for Lukoil’s share in the Shah Deniz II gas drilling project. The Russian energy giant holds a 10% share in the Shah Deniz consortium. It is the third time it would receive EBRD support for the very same project (following a USD 200 million loan in 2014 and a financing package of USD 1 billion dollars, arranged together with the Asian Development Bank and commercial banks in 2015).

At the same time, according to recent media reports, Italy’s Snam, a shareholder of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), the final piece of the Southern Gas Corridor, has offered Gazprom to use the pipeline for its gas deliveries to Europe. Snam later denied these reports, but as Reuters reported in February Snam, like other TAP shareholders, welcomed Gazprom’s use of TAP. Moreover, in March, another Italian energy firm, Eni, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Gazprom for exploring the use of the Southern Gas Corridor for Russian gas imports into the EU.

Corruption allegations

In the meantime, a journalistic investigation as part of the Malta Files series added another piece to the puzzle that Bankwatch started assembling with our Risky Business report. (Our report found that many of the companies contracted to build the Southern Gas Corridor have been implicated in various forms of corruption in the past.)

According to the new investigative story, an Azeri billionaire named Mubariz Mansimov has practically been sponsoring a multi-million oil tanker for Erdogan’s family. A company Mansimov owns together with the Azeri state-owned energy company SOCAR, received two contracts from Turkey’s state-owned energy company BOTAS, each worth approximately half a billion  dollars, for part of the construction of the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline project (TANAP) the Turkish section of the Southern Gas Corridor.

Opposition intensifies

In Italy, the #NoTAP movement is continuing its protests, even at sea. But the opposition against the Southern Gas Corridor has been growing on a global scale.

In an open letter Bankwatch, together with 350.org, Counter Balance and many other groups, called on the EU to avoid financing the TAP project. Over 13 000 people have already added their signatures, including Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, James Hansen and Mark Ruffalo.

You can add your signature here.

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