PM hails choice of TAP as 'putting Greece on pipeline map' [UPDATE]

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Friday hailed the announcement that the Trans Adriatic Pipeline for natural gas (TAP) had been chosen to carry Azeri gas to Europe via Greece, noting that the move put the country "on the pipeline map" and would put a stop to talk of a possible Greek exit from the euro zone.

In a statement released from Brussels, where he was attending an EU summit on fighting unemployment, Samaras described the TAP project as one of the biggest in Europe of the past 20 years and the biggest ever in southern Europe, noting that it represented 1.5 billion euros in direct investment to Greece alone. The project would lead to the direct creation of 2,000 jobs in Greece over the next few years and the indirect creation of another 10,000, he added.

The decision to choose TAP, which will carry gas to Europe via Greece, constituted a "vote of confidence" in the country and would now put a definitive end to "disaster scenarios" about a possible Greek exit from the euro zone, Samaras added. "Who would put so much money into a country that is economically, socially and politically dangerous?" Samaras said.

The development boosted Greece's geopolitical significance and transformed the country into an "energy hub" that will attract new investments and businesses, he said.

The premier called on the EU too back efforts by member states to develop their own natural resources, saying that Greece could produce and export its own energy.

The news of the TAP deal, Samaras concluded, was "the most significant positive economic development regarding our country in the past 10 years."

The consortium developing Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz gas field chose TAP over the rival Nabucco West project, Gordon Birrell, BP's Regional President for Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey said on Friday.

Welcoming the TAP deal, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso described it as a "shared success for Europe and a milestone in strengthening the energy security of our Union."