Multiple benefits from TAP deal

The curse which has plagued proposals for major energy pipelines through Greece was broken on Wednesday, as the consortium that will utilize the Shah Deniz natural gas reserve in Azerbaijan chose the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) over rival project Nabucco West for the transmission of the commodity to Central Europe.

Representatives of the British Petroleum-led consortium visited Athens on Wednesday and informed Prime Minister Antonis Samaras of their decision to opt for the pipeline that goes through Greece, Albania and Italy. The Greek government respected the consortium’s timetable that provides for a formal announcement of the decision tomorrow, but the news was confirmed in Austria by local group OMV, the funding force of Nabucco West, which announced its rejection by the consortium.

The representatives of the Shah Deniz consortium also met with Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos. The latter had led efforts to coordinate Athens, Rome and Tirana in recent months so as to present a strong front of political support for the gas pipeline. The Host Government Agreement was formally signed on Wednesday in Athens.

For Greece, TAP constitutes a foreign direct investment worth 1.5 billion euros – one of the biggest in this country – and will create 2,000 jobs directly and another 10,000 indirectly.

According to a study by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE), the opening of the southern natural gas corridor through Greece will create 413-445 million euros of added value for the Greek economy.

On a geopolitical level, the Azeris’ decision to choose TAP means that Greece is finally becoming an important link in the energy chain that will transmit Azeri gas to Central and Western Europe, aimed at diversifying the supply of the fuel that has hitherto been dominated by Russia.