The Caspian Sea, which has been a challenging point for many actors throughout history, has not lost anything of this feature today; in fact, it has become a source of hope for the European Union (EU) and Balkan countries facing the energy crisis because of the sanctions imposed on Russian natural gas due to the war in Ukraine. With the creation of states that gained independence after the disintegration of the Union, the number of coastal states on the Caspian Sea increased to five. These states, which were insufficient in terms of technology in the first years of their independence, struck a blow to Russia’s monopoly in the region thanks to the cooperation of Western-based energy companies. However, the conflicts between the coastal states and the West’s effort to keep its relations with Moscow in a certain place did not limit local changes.
On the other hand, the conjuncture that emerged after 2020 has opened the door to the development of new equations. On the one hand, after the Second Karabakh War, Caspian-based projects became more applicable; on the other hand, the disputes between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan regarding the natural gas fields called “Serdar” and “Kepez” were resolved and the region began to be called “Friendship Basin.” In addition, the reconciliation between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan has shown that Caspian-based cooperation processes will accelerate as an important development. 
It is a perfectly normal development that Caspian-based projects gain importance. Because of the sanctions imposed on Russia due to the Russia-Ukraine War, the suspension of the Nord Stream-2 Natural Gas Pipeline, the sabotage of the Nord Stream-1 and Nord Stream-2 Natural Gas Pipelines, the missile strikes in Poland and the Friendship Oil Pipeline to Hungary was closed by Kyiv, the energy crisis in Europe deepened. Therefore, the Southern Gas Corridor has come to the fore as the most reliable route. Increasing the carrying capacity of the Trans-Caspian Natural Gas Pipeline has come to the fore.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the pipeline, which was added to TANAP to transfer natural gas to Bulgaria via Greece, after Gazprom cut off the shipment to Bulgaria, which is dependent on Russian natural gas, in April 2022, the following words the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, drew attention:
“The Greece-Bulgaria Gas Interconnection Project will play a critical role in strengthening Europe’s energy security and diversifying its gas supply. Energy security is part of the national security of every state. Current developments in international politics also confirm this. For about two years, Azerbaijani gas has been exported to European markets and will now be sent to Bulgaria. Changing Europe’s energy map, the Southern Gas Corridor is one of the continent’s largest infrastructure projects. Azerbaijan is proud to be the pioneer of the Southern Gas Corridor.”
It is also seen that there has been an increase in the Balkan visits of the President of Azerbaijan. The contacts of Aliyev, who visited the regional states, especially Serbia, indicate that natural gas pipeline routes that are likely to extend to the Balkans and Visegrad countries are being tried to be implemented. Undoubtedly, these new energy routes will also relieve Moldova, which has difficulties in gas supply due to its debts to Gazprom. The statements of Wolfgang Urbancic, Head of the Austrian Energy Regulator “E-Control”, stating that Azerbaijan will become an alternative market along with Algeria and Norway should not be ignored in the context of these initiatives. Because Azerbaijan is turning into an important centre for Europe to overcome the energy crisis.
At this point, it should be noted that energy-based mobility was not limited to Baku, especially Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan came to the fore in energy geopolitics. The Astana administration is working on the sale of Kazakh energy through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and Baku Supsa Pipelines after the cuts applied to the Kazakh natural gas exported via Russia under the pretext of modification. Kazakhstan is expected to export natural gas through these pipelines starting in 2023. It is stated that this is one of the issues discussed during Aliyev’s visit to Tbilisi.
On the other hand, on 19 October 2022, Romania-based Romgaz and Azerbaijan’s SOCAR companies signed a memorandum of understanding containing a statement of intent on “developing a joint liquefied natural gas project (LNG) in the Black Sea”. It is known that SOCAR currently operates an oil transshipment terminal in Georgia and thus carries out Bucharest-based shipments from Kulevi Port. As can be seen, the development of such works is on the agenda.
On the other hand, the region, especially Baku, is making an active effort to deliver Turkmenistan’s natural gas to Europe. On the other hand, it should not be ignored that Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji visited Ashgabat and met with the President of Turkmenistan, Serdar Berdimuhamedov. In this meeting, swap agreements were discussed regarding the structuring of natural gas debts and the transfer of natural gas, oil, and petroleum products.
On the other hand, it was announced by Owji that Russian investors signed an agreement with Iran for the development of seven oil and gas fields worth 4.5 billion dollars. When this situation is considered together with the regional visits of the US and EU officials, it can be stated that the competition in the region has increased.
At this stage, it should be noted that the energy crisis, which negatively affected Europe, increased the importance of the states bordering the Caspian. The fact that two of the five coastal states were the target of sanctions brought the other three countries to the fore. In this context, it can be said that Azerbaijan, which has been exporting energy to Europe for a long time, has also turned into an important route country.
The agreements made by Kazakhstan with Shell are also noteworthy. After his victory in the early Presidential elections of 20 November 2022, it can be predicted that Tokayev will take much more concrete steps in this area as well.
As a result, the energy crisis arising from the Russia-Ukraine War prompted states in a wide geography from Central Asia to Eastern Europe to cooperate; It also offers opportunities to actors at the point of deepening economic relations.
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