Azerbaijan's Socar has announced its alliance with Western oil companies to construct the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which is planned to carry Azerbaijani gas to Europe via a European Union-backed route.
The state-owned Socar said on July 30 that it was forming a consortium with Britain’s BP, Norway’s Statoil, France’s Total, Belgian company Fluxys, Germany’s E.ON, and Switzerland’s Axpo to build the roughly 870-kilometer pipeline.
When it reaches full capacity, TAP is expected to carry some 20 billion cubic meters of gas from Azerbaijan’s offshore Caspian Sea Shah Deniz field to Europe.
The pipeline route runs through Greece and Albania, across the bottom of the Adriatic Sea, and ends in Italy.
"TAP’s landfall in Italy, the third largest gas market in Europe, provides multiple opportunities for further transport of Caspian natural gas to some of the largest European markets such as Germany, France, the UK, Switzerland and Austria," a statement posted on the TAP website
Azerbaijan and Turkey have a separate deal to carry the gas from Azerbaijan to the Turkish city of Kipoi, on the border with Greece, via the yet-to-be-built Trans-Anatolian Pipeline.
TAP is part of the EU’s “Southern Gas Corridor” strategy, a series of planned routes aimed at diversifying sources of energy imports for European countries. Some European states have become concerned about the increasing dependency of the EU on Russian gas supplies.
The TAP website quoted the project’s managing director, Kjetil Tungland, as saying the pipeline "will further strengthen the integration of the entire Southern Gas Corridor value chain and support TAP’s delivery of the project on time and on budget.”
The mention of “transport of Caspian natural gas” in the TAP statement could indicate the consortium entertains hopes eastern Caspian gas producers Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and possibly Uzbekistan might ship gas to Europe through the southern routes that avoid Russian territory at a future date. Representatives of those three Central Asian countries have attended EU meetings in recent years on the Southern Gas Corridor.
Socar, BP, and Statoil are all partners in the Shah Deniz gas field project, and each has a 20-percent share in the TAP consortium. Fluxys, a major gas transit operator in Europe, has 16 percent, Total (also a partner in the Shah Deniz project) 10 percent, E.ON nine percent, and Axpo five percent.
TAP construction is due to start in 2015 with launch expected in 2018.
Based on reporting by Trend.az and RFE/RL