TAP gets interest from several key lenders

Baku, Azerbaijan, Jan. 23

By Aygun Badalova -Trend:

The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which is a strategic project for the European Union, is moving forward. Following several key events last year, including the authorization of the Shah Deniz-2 project and the signing of supply agreements with the buyers, in 2014 TAP will continue to take important steps on turning the Caspian gas-to Europe project into a reality.

This year will be very important in terms of preparations for the construction works within TAP, and the first steps have already been made. This week the consortium of TAP announced the plans to invite bids for the construction and ancillary works for the project in late 2014 and early 2015.

TAP's official representative told Trend about the preparations for the construction, as well as the current situation with the project finance.

"TAP's development is in full alignment with the Shah Deniz 2 schedule," the representative said. He also stressed that the construction will start once TAP has secured land access along the pipeline route and is planned to last for about three and a half years.

First gas sales within the Shah Deniz-2 project to Georgia and Turkey targeted for late 2018, while first deliveries to Europe will follow approximately a year later, according to the source.

Speaking of financial issues, the source said that TAP has enlisted some key lenders' support.

"TAP is in discussions with several key lenders and there is a strong interest from their side for participating in such strategic joint ventures like TAP, which are considered to be reliable, long-term and commercial investments," the source said.

The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is among such potential lenders.

Suma Chakrabarti, the EBRD president, earlier said that the bank was considering an opportunity of participation in financing of TAP and TANAP (Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline) projects, calling them "very important for Azerbaijan and the entire region." He also said that before making a decision (on financing), a wide range of issues must be discussed and much more work needs to be done.

The TAP project was selected by the consortium of Azerbaijani Shah Deniz field development as the transportation route to the European markets. The project is designed to transport gas from the Caspian region via Greece and Albania and across the Adriatic Sea to the south of Italy and further to Western Europe. The initial capacity of the pipeline will be 10 billion cubic meters per year, but it can easily be expanded to 20 billion cubic meters per year. TAP's shareholders are AXPO of Switzerland (42.5 per cent), Norway's Statoil (42.5 per cent) and E.ON Ruhrgas of Germany (15 per cent).

TAP representative also stressed that their pipeline can seamlessly connect with TANAP, and TAP has on-going discussions with the TANAP project representatives.

He mentioned that in November 2012, TAP and TANAP have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which established a technical and commercial cooperation between the two pipelines and formalized a mutual framework and forum for coordinated activities and exchanges of information.

The TANAP project envisages gas transportation from the Shah Deniz field to Europe via Turkey. The initial capacity of the pipeline is expected to reach 16 billion cubic meters per year. Around six billion cubic meters will be delivered to Turkey and the rest to Europe.

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