As Europe lessens its dependence on Russian oil, Azerbaijan is increasing its natural gas exports to Europe this year by 30%. This is part of measures to contain the gaps created by Russia’s reduction of gas deliveries to European Union markets.

The country’s energy minister, Parviz Shahbazov, said that over the eight months of this year, Baku “supplied to Europe 7.3 billion cubic meters of natural gas.”

According to him, the overall volume of (gas) supplies to Europe in 2022 will amount to 12 billion cubic meters, which is a 31% increase compared to the volume in 2021.

He said there has been a nearly 10% increase in gas production, which reached 30.6 billion cubic meters in January-August 2022. Last September, European Commission [EU], President, Ursula von der Leyen, proposed that member states agree a price cap on gas imported from Russia.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly vowed to cut off gas deliveries to countries mobilizing for price caps on oil or gas exports from Russia.

In July, the EU and Baku signed a memorandum of understanding with Azerbaijan to double imports of gas to at least 20 billion cubic meters (bcm) a year by 2027.

The agreement also provides for the expansion of the Southern Gas Corridor running through Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, and Greece.

EU leaders agreed in May to stop most Russian oil imports by the end of the year, as part of sanctions to punish Russia for its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

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But the bloc put off an outright ban on Russian gas, which in 2021 amounted to 155 bcm — nearly 40% of the EU’s needs. Russia has already begun reducing its gas deliveries to prevent EU countries from replenishing reserves, prompting the European Commission to prepare “a gas-demand-reduction plan” to get through the next winter.

Putin has rejected Western accusations that Moscow is using its energy exports as a “weapon,” while boasting that it can easily sell oil and gas worldwide and blaming Europeans for current interruptions in gas supplies to the continent.

At the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on September 7, Putin said the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline to Germany will remain so because its last operational turbine is out of order and would be repaired first.

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