What TAP is doing to minimize environmental impact?

Baku, Azerbaijan, July 17

By Leman Zeynalova – Trend:

As a general principle, the consortium for construction of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) aims to avoid adverse environmental impacts and adopt sustainable practices as much as possible to ensure that any impact on the environment is as minimal as possible, TAP Head of Communications Lisa Givert told Trend.

As such, TAP identified potential environmental and social impacts as part of its thorough Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) process, conducted in each of the transit countries by technical experts and in consultation with all relevant stakeholders, she added.

Givert gave some recent examples / consideration of environmental sustainability in practice:

1. We have reduced the width of the pipeline right of way in forest areas and in areas of sensitive habitat or known species of concern to ensure that we minimize and avoid any adverse impact where at all possible. In many areas we have reduced the right of way width from 38m to 28m and in Italy we have reduced it to as little as 18m.

2. Regarding sustainable water management in the Puglia region in Italy, we decided not to use local fresh water supplies or to drill an aquifer for our hydrotest requirements as there was no way to replenish this supply by cleaning and re-introducing the water into the local area systems. To ensure that the systems were therefore not impacted, we instead designed a micro-tunnel that has a completely sealed access pit to accommodate a natural sea water sump area with a constant water supply when it is completed. As such, we have managed to overcome the need for fresh water, by having a direct link through to the sea at a position around 700 metres offshore in a water depth of circa 30 metres.

3. Implementing a system that re-uses hydrostatic test water. Moving or shunting the test water from one test section to another (this reduces the need for new water sources, especially in dry areas or dry seasons or where water is used by others for agriculture, livestock or human use).

4. Waste management. We have developed plans and life-cycle programs to meet all necessary regulatory requirements based on the following principles, listed in order of priority:

o Reduce waste at the point of use

o Reuse materials where possible

o Recycle waste where possible

o Dispose of waste appropriately and responsibly

o Consider alternative methodologies of avoiding and reducing generation of on-site waste

5. Using low impact, non-toxic and bio-degradable chemicals in our Horizontal Directional Drill (HDD) fluids and muds.

6. Burying the pipeline ~1.2 meters below agricultural lands, which ensures that farmers can continue to use their lands to produce crops without unnecessary disruption to routine farming practices.

7. Separating, retaining and preserving valuable topsoil.

8. Re-locating olive trees in Italy to be stored temporarily until they can be replanted. Temporarily relocating approximately 2,000 olive trees and then replanting them to their original location along the pipeline right of way following construction.

9. Transporting workers and crews in buses and vans instead of individual vehicles substantially reduces emissions, fuel consumption and driving risks on the highways.

10. Careful pipeline route selection: evaluation of sensitive wetlands, watercourse crossings and known cultural heritage areas on a case-by-case basis to minimize potential construction impacts. If there is no other choice but to cross sensitive areas, we use a variety of measures to minimize and mitigate any impacts and endeavour to restore impacted areas to as close to their original conditions as possible.

TAP is a part of the Southern Gas Corridor, which is one of the priority energy projects for the European Union. The project envisages transportation of gas from Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz Stage 2 to the EU countries.

The pipeline will connect to the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) on the Turkish-Greek border, run through Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea, before coming ashore in Italy’s south.

TAP will be 878 kilometers in length (Greece 550 kilometers, Albania 215 kilometers, Adriatic Sea 105 kilometers, and Italy 8 kilometers).

TAP’s shareholding is comprised of BP (20 percent), SOCAR (20 percent), Snam S.p.A. (20 percent), Fluxys (19 percent), Enagás (16 percent) and Axpo (5 percent).

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Follow the author on Twitter: @Lyaman_Zeyn

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