Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Trans Adriatic Pipeline Chosen for Italy

Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) Managing Director Kjetil Tungland told EurActiv he has received a letter from the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR), inviting TAP to enter into "exclusive negotiations" with the Shah Deniz consortium.  SOCAR added the invitation was supported unanimously by all the members of the consortium, and the decision is final.  What this means is that the Interconnector-Turkey-Greece-Italy (ITGI) project, an alternative route to Italy supported by the Italian and Greek governments and whose members are primarily Greek corporations, has been eliminated from consideration because of the continuing economic turmoil in that country.  The Shah Deniz consortium is a group of companies led by Statoil and British Petroleum (BP).  Other members include SOCAR, LUKOIL, NICO (Iran), Total and TPAO (Turkey). 

TAP is sponsored by the Swiss energy company EGL, Germany's E.ON AG, and Statoil ASA from Norway.  A weakness of this consortium is that it lacks an Italian partner but, with the Shah Deniz decision supporting TAP, ITGI supporter Enel SPA of Italy has expressed interest in joining the TAP group.  "Enel is interested in all projects that bring gas to the country, includiing TAP," said Enel CEO Fulvio Conti

If built, TAP will carry 16 bcm of natural gas from the second phase of the Azeri offshore gas field, Shah Deniz.  They would pick up the gas at the Turkish border, and carry it 800 kilometers. While the Shah Deniz consortium has agreed to use TAP if it sends gas to Italy, it still has not made a decision to use that corridor, at all.  Harry Sachinis, CEO of the Public Gas Corporation of Greece (DEPA-an ITGI member) said, the Italian pipeline portion of the Southern gas corridor is only a "provisional decision."

Critics of the project point out that TAP has no intergovernmental agreement among the three countries (Greece, Albania and Italy) through which it would pass, although it was included in an Albanian-Italian bilateral from 2009.  They also says that unless Enel or another Italian firm joins the TAP group, it would be difficult to get Italian government permission for the project, according to Reuters.