ECONOMY

Greece, Italy and Albania sign gas pipeline agreement

Greece, Italy and Albania signed on Wednesday a trilateral agreement lending state support to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). The project will involve the construction of a natural gas pipeline to carry Azeri gas to Central Europe, on the condition that the group to utilize the Azeri gas reserves chooses TAP instead of rival Nabucco for the fuel’s transmission this summer.

TAP “will turn Greece from a second-tier energy destination into a strategic transit point,” Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said at the ceremony, which took place in Athens before a high-level international audience of ministers and ambassadors, adding that it will improve the country’s energy supply.

This foreign direct investment, one of the biggest in Greece amounting to 1.5 billion euros, is seen bringing multiple financial benefits to the country, including the creation of 2,000 jobs “in areas suffering from unemployment,” the PM said.

Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos signed the agreement on behalf of Greece, along with Albanian Finance and Energy Minister Edmond Haxhinasto and Italian Economic Development Minister Corrado Passera, who dubbed the pipeline a “strategic [piece of] infrastructure for the strengthening of the security of Europe’s energy supply.”

Azerbaijan is counting on the 800-kilometer TAP venture submitting a strong case to gas field developers led by BP Plc as the best route to carry Azeri gas to Europe, the country’s Deputy Industry and Energy Minister Gulmammad Javadov said.

Azerbaijan hopes TAP’s support package submission at the end of March “will be strong and competitive enough” to be chosen as the southern gas corridor for transporting Azeri gas to Europe, Javadov added.

Samaras stressed that TAP is shorter, cheaper and runs through fewer countries than Nabucco.

The group led by BP, which is developing the second phase of Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz gas field, will choose between TAP and Nabucco in June. The group includes the State Oil Co of Azerbaijan (SOCAR).