The Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) is set to be announced by the Shah Deniz consortium – BP, Azeri state oil company SOCAR and France’s Total - on June 28 as the winner to carry Azerbaijan’s gas via Greece and Albania and across the Adriatic Sea to the south of Italy, a well-informed source close to Baku told the newspaper New Europe.
However, the Shah Deniz consortium said in a statement that it “is not going to speculate on the choice of European pipeline delivery option for Shah Deniz gas. As we have said before the Shah Deniz consortium intends to announce the selected option before the end of June,” he said, reported by Kostis Geropoulos, who writes the Energy Insider column for the newspaper.
The European Union, which is trying to reduce its dependence on Russia for gas and diversify its supply sources, is supporting both TAP and Nabucco West as the two projects compete for 10 billion cubic meters of Azerbaijan’s gas as part of the Southern Gas Corridor.
On June 21, Greece’s Environment, Energy and Climate Change Ministry officially announced it has reached an agreement with TAP over the content of a Host Government Agreement (HGA). The same day, Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR confirmed it has reached a principal agreement with Greek state asset privatisation fund TAIPED for the acquisition of a 66% stake in the country’s natural gas transmission network operator (DESFA). The HGA is expected to be signed in Athens on June 26.
TAP’s shareholders are Swiss AXPO (42.5%), Norway’s Statoil (42.5%) and Germany’s E.ON Ruhrgas (15%). Shah Deniz Consortium members have the option to join TAP, if it is indeed selected on June 28 as the gas transportation route to Europe.
Meanwhile, experts have said that Nabucco and TAP should work together, regardless of which project wins. They note that in the next two years, the interconnectors, gas storage tanks and gas pumping stations should be in place so that the “loser project” can also start construction as the “winner project” nears completion.
They note that the two projects should be sold together to displace Russia’s South Stream, which looks set to dominate gas supplies in the Balkans.