TANAP was opened by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, and Mustafa Akinci, president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Speaking at the ceremony, Erdogan called TANAP the fruit of the shared vision of the countries involved in the project and said it would pave the way for similar future projects.
“The political and economic stability Turkey has ensured over the last 16 years in Turkey has played a very significant role in realizing TANAP in such a short time,” Erdogan said, referring to the era of Justice and Development (AK) Party rule.
Calling it a historic step for the countries of the region, he added: "We are opening the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline, the backbone of the southern gas corridor, which we call the Silk Road of energy."
Erdogan said the project was made possible primarily due to good Turkish-Azeri relations, based on mutual trust. He added that the harmonization and understanding among producer, transit, and consumer countries, and companies also sped up the process.
"In this respect, TANAP is also a sign of multilateral cooperation. The understanding that we see energy not a conflict, but as cooperative ground has once again taken shape in flesh and bones thanks to TANAP," Erdogan said.
Noting TANAP’s starting capacity of 16 billion cubic meter (bcm) of natural gas, he said 6 billion of that will go to Turkey, while 10 billion will go to Europe.
"We aim to increase TANAP's capacity to 22 bcm based on demand, and to 31 bcm immediately after with additional investments," he said.
Erdogan said first gas delivery to the Greek border is set for June 2019.
"We have sent our first local and national drilling ship the Fatih to the Mediterranean. With this ship and its cutting-edge technology, we have addressed an important shortcoming of our country," Erdogan said, adding that they have boosted Turkey's renewable energy resources' installed power from 12,305 megawatts to 40,838 megawatts.
-Regional, global cooperation
TANAP is a critical project, as it will boost the security of energy supplies, said Berat Albayrak, Turkey's energy and natural resources minister.
He called TANAP a new symbol of the Turkish-Azeri brotherhood.
"The regional cooperation between Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia turned into global cooperation. TANAP is a project of vision, stability and strong leadership," Albayrak said.
- TANAP at a glance
The opening ceremony featured the attendance of government leaders, energy company executives, and senior bureaucrats from shareholder and friendly countries.
TANAP is a natural gas pipeline stretching from the Turkish-Georgian border to the Turkish-Greek border to supply natural gas to both Turkey and also European countries.
The 1,850-kilometer pipeline is the largest section of the 3,500-km Southern Gas Corridor, which was inaugurated on May 29 in Baku.
TANAP, with around $8 billion in investment, will deliver 6 billion cubic meters of Azeri gas to Turkey and 10 billion to Europe per year. The European part of the project is expected to be operational in 2020.
The TANAP project has seen the employment of around 13,000.
The estimated investment cost was $11.7 billion at the start of the project, but this figure has been revised down to $7.99 billion.
Currently, the Southern Gas Corridor Company holds a 51 percent share, Turkey's BOTAS has a 30 percent interest, BP holds 12 percent, and SOCAR Turkey has the remaining 7 percent.
TANAP will be followed by an 878-km cross-border natural gas pipeline, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). TAP is currently under construction, stretching from the Greek-Turkish border crossing Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea to Italy. At its entry point, TAP will connect to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) in Turkey.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) in March approved €932 million ($1.15 billion) in financing for TANAP.
*Sena Guler in Ankara contributed to the story
By Murat Temizer and Huseyin Erdogan