Greece hopeful on TAP pipeline after Samaras visit to Azerbaijan

The government is hopeful that Azerbaijan will choose to transport its natural gas via the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which will pass through Greece, following Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s visit to Baku on Sunday.

“We are in the final stretch so that by June the Azeris will have opted for TAP as their choice for transporting gas to Europe,” Panayiotis Michalos the secretary general of International Economic Relations and Development Cooperation at the Foreign Ministry told the Athens-Macedonia News Agency.

TAP’s country manager for Greece, Rikard Scoufias, also told the state-run news agency that Samaras’s visit to Baku, where he held talks with his counterpart Ilham Aliyev, was a success.

The 800-kilometer (500 miles) TAP pipeline project is being developed by Statoil ASA, EON Ruhrgas AG and EGL AG to initially ship 10 billion cubic meters of Azeri gas a year to Italy via Greece and Albania from the Turkish border.

The proposal is competing with the OMV AG-led Nabucco West development, which would run for 1,300 kilometers from Turkey to Austria via Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, for the right to export the fuel.

Albania, Greece and Italy signed in Athens in February an agreement that gives the full political backing of the three countries to the TAP project.

Michalos said that the process of Host Government Agreements being signed with the TAP consortium were also in the final stages.

According to a study by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE), Greece will see investments of 1.5 billion euros as a result of the pipeline with the direct creation of 2,000 jobs, while another 10,000 would be created indirectly.

IOBE also sees the pipeline bringing 18 billion euros of added value to the Greek economy during the course of its operation.

During Sunday’s talks Samaras vowed that he would return to Azerbaijan for an official visit.