TAP as contributor to development of Albania’s natural gas market

Baku, Azerbaijan, May 16

By Aygun Badalova -Trend:

The construction of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which will transport Azerbaijani gas to the European markets, will start next year in Albania.

Albania was the first country where the consortium of TAP development has received Compound Development Permit, allowing to start pipeline construction activities in that country.

TAP's permitting process is on schedule, TAP representative told Trend. In Greece and Italy, which are also the host countries, TAP expects to receive approval of its comprehensive Environmental and Social Impact Assessment application. In Italy, specifically, TAP has recently conducted additional studies, following a request by the ministry of environment and of cultural heritage.

TAP will be one of the largest foreign investments in Albania with a cost of construction of around one billion euros.

During construction of the pipeline, TAP will bring employment to the country - in construction, transport and communications, manufacturing and utilities, trade, financial and business services, as well as it will contribute to the development of key infrastructure in the country such as roads.

TAP will also support Albania in developing its domestic gas market and connections to regional gas networks.

The distinguishing feature of Albanian gas market is that currently there is absolute lack of a gas distribution system there. And the challenge is to create such a system by the time when Azerbaijani gas will be transported through this country - in 2019.

The State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) last year expressed interest in the creation of a gas infrastructure in Albania. Albanian leadership, in turn, repeatedly stated that the construction of a gas transportation infrastructure in the country is a priority for Azerbaijan and SOCAR and welcomed the company's intentions.

The interest of SOCAR in the creation of a gas infrastructure in Albania is based on commercial aspects. In particular, Albania is located closer to the gas production in Azerbaijan than other TAP host countries. "Therefore, the gas producers in Azerbaijan are interested in selling some amount of gas to the country to which the gas transportation is cheaper rather than to distant markets," senior source at SOCAR told Trend earlier.

The representative of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline told Trend that TAP is supporting the development of Albania's natural gas market and is already assisting in the development of its National Gas Master Plan.

"It is expected that TAP's presence in the country will give a boost to the development of Albania's energy sector and will attract more international companies to invest in this area," the representative said.

The GMP will enable the Albanian Government to meet its strategic goal of be-coming an energy hub in the region.

The main objectives within that plan is linking Albania with the international gas network, development of regional underground gas storage reservoirs, preparation of the necessary legal framework in the field of gas supply, restructuring the existing system for gas transmission in Albania.

Earlier Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said that TAP is not only a chance for the development of Albania's national market that demands support and special contribution of Azerbaijan. "Albania should also become a "promoter" of gasification for many countries in the region which still do not have such markets and necessary infrastructure", he said.

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