The Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) and Bosnian system operator BH-Gas signed yesterday (7 April) an agreement paving the way for a future extension of the planned gas pipeline to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The two companies agreed "to explore opportunities for developing natural gas markets and enhancing supply diversity in South East Europe (SEE)".

The development comes shortly after TAP, which is one of several projects in the so-called 'Southern Gas Corridor' (see 'Background'), found a partner in Croatia, Plinacro Ltd, the country's natural gas transmission system operator, paving the way for further extension in the Western Balkan region.

Plinacro, together with BH-Gas, are promoting the Ionian Adriatic Pipeline (IAP), which intends to deliver gas to Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Albania.

Last week, the TAP pipeline finalised a study for its optimal route across Greece (see map).

TAP's proposed routing in Greece will be 190km in length – the pipeline will start in Nea Mesimvria near Thessaloniki and extend to the Greek-Albanian border north of the town of Dipotamia.

TAP also includes plans for reverse-flow capabilities in order to allow more flexibility in gas flows and avoid a repeat of the January 2009 gas cut, which left the region without supplies in the heart of the winter.

Kjetil Tungland, managing director of TAP, said that by signing with its Bosnian partner, his company, which is a purely private sector project and does not rely on public finance, still aims to contribute to meeting key national, regional and European energy policy objectives. 

"We will continue our work relentlessly to pave the way for gas supplies to the entire South Eastern European region," Tungland said.

Almir Becarevic, president of the board of BH-Gas, hailed the agreement as a "milestone" that would increase the reliability and diversification of gas supplies to South-East Europe.

After the signing of a Ministerial Declaration on the Ionian-Adriatic Pipeline, the agreement with TAP was the next logical step towards realising the infrastructure that will diversify gas supplies in the region, Becarevic added.