The presidents of the European Commission and Azerbaijan signed an unprecedented strategic deal on Thursday that will result in Europe having direct access to Caspian gas, the commission said in a statement.
Jose Manuel Barroso and Ilham Aliyev signed the document in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, in a move to diversify the European Union's gas imports and cut its dependence on Russian energy.
"This agreement confirms Europe's direct access to gas from the Caspian basin, thus enabling the realization of the Southern Corridor," said Barroso, adding that this new supply route would enhance Europe's energy security.
The Southern Corridor, a project to deliver Caspian gas to Europe, includes several pipelines, such as Nabucco, ITGI, White Stream and TAP.
The Nabucco project aims to bring gas from Azerbaijan to Austria via Turkey with a brand new pipeline, while the Trans-Adriatic TAP pipeline and the ITGI pipeline going from Turkey to Italy via Greece will require that the existing lines be upgraded.
The gas deal was Azerbaijan's first official commitment to supply gas to Europe. The Caucasus country will now have to decide on which pipeline to use.
After visiting Azerbaijan, the European Commission delegation will travel to Turkmenistan, which ranks fourth globally in proven reserves of natural gas.
BRUSSELS/BAKU, January 13 (RIA Novosti)