The European Union signed a new gas deal with Azerbaijan on Monday, doubling imports to help replace fossil fuels from Russia amid the war in Ukraine.
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, met with President Ilham Aliyev in Baku and signed a new memorandum of understanding on a strategic partnership in the field of energy as Brussels prepares to break its reliance on Russian gas, according to a news release.
“We are opening a new chapter in our energy cooperation with Azerbaijan, a key partner in our efforts to move away from Russian fossil fuels,” von der Leyen said.
She said that the new agreement “guarantees stable and reliable gas supplies” to Europe via the Southern Gas Corridor. Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson joined von der Leyen in Baku to help finalize the deal.
“We are also laying the foundations of a long-term partnership on energy efficiency and clean energy, as we both pursue the objectives of the Paris Agreement,” von der Leyen said.
“But energy is only one of the areas where we can enhance our cooperation with Azerbaijan and I look forward to tap the full potential of our relationship.”
The new deal includes a commitment to deliver at least 20 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe each year by 2027, with Azerbaijan already increasing deliveries of natural gas from 8.1 billion cubic meters in 2021 to an expected 12 billion cubic meters in 2022.
“This trend will continue, with up to 4 billion cubic meters of additional gas this year and volumes expected to more than double by 2027,” Simson said.
The memorandum reads that the EU’s goals for enabling the stable and predictable delivery of natural gas include the “shipment of Caspian natural gas to the European Union and, potentially, to Western Balkan countries.”
Europe and Azerbaijan also agreed to “encourage financing” for the expansion of the Southern Gas Corridor pipeline.
In a separate statement, von der Leyen thanked the Azeri president for “stepping up and for supporting the European Union.”
“Already before Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, the Russian gas supplies to Europe were no more reliable,” von der Leyen said.
“The European Union has therefore decided to diversify away from Russia and to turn towards more reliable, trustworthy partners. And I am glad to count Azerbaijan among them.”