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R. Scoufias: TAP is a project of great importance for South-East Europe

Mr. Ricard Scoufias highlighted the strategic importance of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP AG) for Europe's energy diversification and security, arguing that “the wider South East Europe (SEE) area is one of the regions that could benefit the most from the opening of the Southern Gas Corridor”

By: EBR - Posted: Monday, May 22, 2017

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In Italy, in line with the Single Authorisation Permit granted by the Ministry of Economy and Finance on 20 May 2015, TAP continues its progress regarding secondary permitting activities. Over the summer of 2016, the project has carried out the unexploded ordnance (UXO) and archaeological surveys, as well as phytosanitary treatment (spraying of olive trees along TAP’s route, in preparation of moving them). Along with the geological studies conducted on the San Foca beach and the native maquis*, all preparation has been concluded for the construction of the 1,5km-long micro-tunnel within the year.
In Italy, in line with the Single Authorisation Permit granted by the Ministry of Economy and Finance on 20 May 2015, TAP continues its progress regarding secondary permitting activities. Over the summer of 2016, the project has carried out the unexploded ordnance (UXO) and archaeological surveys, as well as phytosanitary treatment (spraying of olive trees along TAP’s route, in preparation of moving them). Along with the geological studies conducted on the San Foca beach and the native maquis*, all preparation has been concluded for the construction of the 1,5km-long micro-tunnel within the year.

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TAP’s Director in Greece stated that pipeline’s construction is progressed according to schedule, despite some delays in Italy, noting that a 41% of the project has been completed so far.

Concerning Greece, he said that “between Greece and Albania, TAP has now cleared and graded nearly 50% of its corridor” and “at the same time, line pipes continue being delivered to the ports of Kavala, Thessaloniki and Alexandroupolis.”

Mr. Scoufias was interviewed by the Director of EurActiv.gr, Nikos Lambropoulos and the journalist Aria Koutra.
 
Is it possible the political turmoil in the Balkans to affect the future energy projects in the region? Do you have a special concern for the situation in Turkey?

The wider South East Europe (SEE) area is one of the regions that could benefit the most from the opening of the Southern Gas Corridor. Some of these countries are virgin markets with no gas in their energy mix, which means that they are still using significant amounts of coal. So, given that TAP is committed to facilitating connections to several gas markets in this region, its implementation is an opportunity to decarbonise the energy mix and bridge to a more sustainable energy future. 

That said, I would like to stress that TAP is not responsible for building the physical infrastructure into SEE, just the Trans Adriatic Pipeline traversing Greece, Albania and Italy. I reiterate, however, TAP’s commitment to facilitating connections to strategic infrastructure, such as the Ionian Adriatic Pipeline (IAP) and the Greece-Bulgaria Interconnector (IGB). Additionally, we remain committed to contributing to the Albanian Gas Master Plan by providing technical expertise and enabling gas exit points for all three of our host countries. 

With regard to your second question, I would like to note that TAP is underpinned by a long-term gas transportation agreement for a period of 25 years. In September 2013, the Shah Deniz consortium announced it signed sales agreements for just over 10bcm/a of gas to be sourced by the Shah Deniz field in Azerbaijan, as a result of the development of Stage 2 of the Shah Deniz project.

How is the project evolving in Greece and Italy? Is your cooperation with the central government and local authorities smooth and in line with the timeframes agreed?

Construction activities in all three of TAP’s host countries began in May 2016 and to date its progress advances according to schedule. In terms of overall project progress, we are approx. 41% complete – including all engineering, procurement and construction scope.

In Greece, by early May, almost over 270 km of our Right-of-way had been cleared, 234 km line pipes strung, approximately 203 km welded, 102 km back-filled and approximately 21 km were being reinstated. 

At the same time, line pipes continue being delivered to the ports of Kavala, Thessaloniki and Alexandroupolis. So far, approximately 66% of the 32,000 line pipes needed to build the 550km Greek section have been delivered.

In Albania, approximately 109 km have been cleared and graded along our route, 95 km line pipes strung, 78 km welded and approximately 58 km back-filled. 

This means that between Greece and Albania, TAP has now cleared and graded nearly 50% of its corridor (ca. 380km out of 765km). Additionally, we have welded over 35% of steel line pipes and around 20% pipes are already in the ground.  

In Italy, in line with the Single Authorisation Permit granted by the Ministry of Economy and Finance on 20 May 2015, TAP continues its progress regarding secondary permitting activities. Over the summer of 2016, the project has carried out the unexploded ordnance (UXO) and archaeological surveys, as well as phytosanitary treatment (spraying of olive trees along TAP’s route, in preparation of moving them). Along with the geological studies conducted on the San Foca beach and the native maquis*, all preparation has been concluded for the construction of the 1,5km-long micro-tunnel within the year. 

* a type of vegetation typically found along the Southern Italian coast.

TAP has received strong support from the governments and competent authorities of our three host countries – support that has been integral in the project’s successful progress. And we are grateful for their collaboration and continuing support. 
More locally in Italy, permitting has lost its momentum due to the lengthy procedures of the regional permitting system. We do remain confident, however, that TAP will continue its activities as planned. 

There are efforts to revive competitive projects to TAP in the area. Do you think there is space for competition? Do you believe they can pose a threat to your project? 

TAP does not comment on other pipeline systems. 

With regard to its own purpose, TAP is a project underpinned by a long-term gas transportation agreement of 25 years, and a project that is strategically important for Europe so to diversify and ensure its energy supply. 

In that context and as the European leg of the extensive Southern Gas Corridor, TAP is fully committed to building a ca. 880km pipeline that will transport natural gas –initially 10 bcm/a– from the Shah Deniz phase II in the Caspian Sea to Europe, via Greece, Albania and Italy.  

*EBR with EurActiv.gr

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