The Growing Importance of the Middle Corridor as an Energy Transport Route, and Opportunities for Azerbaijan and Georgia

In light of Russia’s war in Ukraine and the imposition of Western sanctions, a new multimodal trade route, the Middle Corridor, the shortest available, which passes via Central Asia, the Caspian Sea, and the South Caucasus, is expected to improve interconnection between Asia and Europe. The goal of this article is to examine the Middle Corridor’s growing relevance as an energy transportation route and its potential to offer new opportunities for the European Union (EU), Central Asian countries, as well as for Azerbaijan and Georgia. In particular, this article covers the Middle Corridor’s growth factors; the EU’s current energy shortfall; the potential for fossil and renewable energy in Central Asia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia; as well as the main challenges to and prospects for its development. The Middle Corridor, as an alternative to conventional routes through Russia or the Middle East, presents a solution to geopolitical vulnerabilities. While its current infrastructure capacity falls short of Europe’s energy demands, Central Asia and the South Caucasus offer vast amounts of fossil and renewable energy resources that could enhance the EU’s energy security and bolster the Middle Corridor’s capacity. Despite economic, political, and technical obstacles, global circumstances are creating momentum for its expansion. Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Central Asian countries stand to gain from economic diversification, regional integration, diplomatic strength, and reduced dependence on Russia.

Authors: Giorgi Mukhigulishvili