US sees TANAP ‘universally’ good for Turkey, Europe

US sees TANAP ‘universally’ good for Turkey, Europe

Serkan Demirtaş - ANKARA
US sees TANAP ‘universally’ good for Turkey, Europe

The United States has expressed very strong support for the trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline Project (TANAP) that will carry natural gas from Azerbaijan to the European continent via Turkey, describing the $8.5 billion-worth project as a strong addition to the energy security of regional countries, including Europe. 

“TANAP is pretty much universally good. It’s good for Azerbaijan, good for Turkey. Once the TAP [Trans Adriatic Pipeline Project] is built, it will also be good for Europe,” Sandra Oudkirk, the deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of State told a group of reporters in Ankara on June 12. She came to Turkey to attend the inauguration ceremony of TANAP on behalf of the U.S. administration.

Leaders open TANAP pipeline carrying gas from Azerbaijan to Europe
Leaders open TANAP pipeline carrying gas from Azerbaijan to Europe

The presidents of Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Georgia inaugurated the TANAP project, which aims to transport the natural gas produced in Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz-2 gas field in the Caspian Sea and in other fields in the south of the Caspian Sea first to Turkey and then to Europe.

Although the U.S. does not have economical involvement in the project, it has been lending great political support for its realization, Oudkirk said.

“As the U.S., we take energy security for ourselves, allies, and partners really seriously. And we see this project an important component of the bigger sort of energy security, diversification picture,” underlined the official.

The U.S. policy on energy security prioritizes the transport of Caspian hydrocarbon resources to world markets in a bid to reduce the dependency of European countries on Russian reserves.

Oudkirk said TANAP was constituting a strong addition to the energy security of Turkey and European countries.

US opposed to diversionary pipelines

When asked about Turkey’s energy deals with Russia that do include the making of the Turkish Stream, a dual-pipeline project that will carry Russian natural gas to both Turkey and to the European markets via Turkey, Oudkirk underlined the need to parse out these two different lines of the pipeline.

“We are opposed to the diversionary pipelines,” the official stressed, citing the second line of the pipeline that originally aims to reach certain European markets and to by-pass Ukrainian territory.

“They don’t make sense for many reasons and they have many disadvantages for both Ukrainian and other European recipients of gas,” Oudkirk said.

“We have publicly said that will be very bad for Ukraine,” she added.

US follows east Med very closely

The deputy assistant secretary also responded to questions on recent developments in the east Mediterranean that have created tension between Turkey and Greek Cyprus, as well as other countries in the region that have recently explored vast offshore natural reserves.

“Neighboring countries, even with historical animosities, can find a way for the production, sale and use of hydrocarbon resources in a win-win commercial situation,” Oudkirk said, recalling a deal between Israel and Jordan on natural gas.

“We certainly hope that the same philosophy can extend through the eastern Mediterranean and other zones. The Mediterranean is not the only part of the world where hydrocarbon resources are transboundary and within disputed exclusive economic zones,” she said.

“Fundamentally, the U.S. believes the countries should be able to exploit hydrocarbon resources in their specific economic zone,” said Oudkirk, recalling Turkey’s plans to start their own drilling of hydrocarbon reserves in the Mediterranean.