TAP pipeline to start construction in 2015

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The Trans-Adriatic pipeline (TAP) project to bring gas from the Caspian region via Turkey into Europe is gearing up to tender in 2014 ahead of its planned construction start a year later, it said today (11 December). 

"We plan to send invitations to tender during 2014 for pre-qualified engineering and pipeline contract packages, possibly in the first half," communications head Lisa Givert said on the sidelines of a gas event held in Germany to bring together suppliers and future customers for the new route.

"One big part of the project is also gaining access to land and rights of way to be able to meet the timetable for first gas to flow in 2019, but we're on track," she said.

Potential suppliers have not yet been made public, nor the total expected cost of the project, which is expected to involve 55,000 people in three countries.

TAP is the pivotal link in the Southern Corridor, a route to ship gas from central Asia, the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean basin to the European Union, which is seeking to diversify supplies away from dependence on imported Russian gas.

TAP will cross Greece and Albania before reaching Italy and is to be built by a consortium led by BP, Norway's Statoil and Azerbaijan's SOCAR.

They plan to deliver 10 billion cubic metres of gas per year to Europe, and possibly double that in the long-term future.

On December 17 the BP-led Azeri Shah Deniz gas field consortium is due to issue its final investment decision (FID) on phase II expansion aimed at securing output that will fill the new gas routes to Turkey and Europe.

"We are closely tied in to that decision," Givert said.

She said that TAP would mean 1.5 billion ($2.1 billion) in investment for Greece and 1 billion worth for Albania, boosting local industries and employment.

In June, TAP was selected by Shah Deniz over a rival project called Nabucco West.

In September, Shah Deniz chose international buyers of its future gas output.

Azeri gas from the offshore Shah Deniz II field in the Caspian offers Europe a means of reducing its dependence on Russia which currently provides around a quarter of the continent's 500-billion cubic-metre-per-year (bcm/y) annual gas consumption.

Two pipeline projects were competing to obtain the 10 bcm/y from Shah Deniz, available for the EU market: Nabucco West and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). The Shah Deniz consortium, led by BP, Norway's Statoil, Azeri firm SOCAR and France's Total.

The Shah Deniz consortium chose TAP over Nabucco West stating as a reason the higher gas prices in Italy and Greece. However, press reports suggest that Azerbaijan doesn’t want trouble with its Russian neighbour. It is widely known that Russia has an aversion for the Nabucco project and has designed its own pipeline project, South Stream, as a means to kill the EU-favoured project.

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