Official representative: TAP waits for Azerbaijani gas totaling 10 billion cu. m. to launch project

Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb. 23 / Trend, A.Badalova/

Azerbaijan is the only gas supply source for TAP (Trans Adriatic Pipeline), and is expected to provide 10 bcm to start the realization of the project, Michael Hoffmann, the director of external affairs and communications said in an interview with Trend in Baku.

"TAP is designed to transport 10 bcm - it is an initial capacity of the pipeline, Hoffmann said. So those 10 bcm that can be offered by Azerbaijan will be enough for realization of the project".

According to Hoffmann, the pipeline is very flexible and can be easily expanded.

"All we need to do is to invest in an additional compressor station. And by doing that we will double our capacity to 20 bcm," Hoffmann said.

Talking about other sources of gas for TAP, Hoffmann said that in a long term perspective the project is open for other gas to be transported.

The question is not about "if", the question is about "when", he said.

"Our philosophy is to build it (pipeline) step by step, to realize the project with the volumes that are available now. Should more volumes come on stream in smaller increments we can accommodate these volumes," Hoffmann said.

"In our view, there is a lot of positive news about Turkmenistan volumes," he said.

However, he does not believe that this gas can become available in a required timeframe.

"I think more realistic is Northern Iraqi gas. But again there are issues with respect to unification of national gas law, Hoffmann said. - There is also a lot of work required to develop the gas fields in Northern Iraq."

The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) AG is a proposed pipeline project. The 520km-long pipeline will start in Greece near Thessaloniki, cross Albania and the Adriatic Sea and come ashore in Italy near Brindisi, allowing gas to flow directly from the Caspian basin into European markets.

The offshore part of the pipeline starts near the Albanian city of Fier and crosses the Adriatic Sea to tie into Italy's gas transportation grid operated by SNAM ReteGas. In its upstream part, TAP will interconnect with the existing DESFA pipeline system in Greece, which is linked further to the east with systems in Turkey, to secure access to gas supplies in the Caspian Sea region.

The estimated cost of the project is 1.5 billion euro. The shareholders of the project are Norwegian Statoil, Swiss EGL and German E.ON Ruhrgas.

According to Hoffmann, the construction of the pipeline will start in 2013 and it will last three or three and a half years.

"We need to have the pipeline built by 2017," Hoffmann said.

According to him further progress depends on the decision of Shah Deniz partners.

The partners developing Azerbaijani large gas condensate field Shah Deniz plan to sign contracts to sell gas from the second stage of the project development in mid-2011.

"Once we know the decision we can accelerate our activities," Hoffmann said.

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