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TAP: WHERE DOES THE PROJECT STAND TO DATE? THE VIEW FROM BAKU

TAP can supply more gas in future via connections (Source: trend.az)

On June 9, the press service of the Trans Adriatic Gas Pipeline’s (TAP) consortium announced that building of the 105-kilometer offshore segment of the TAP, aiming to transport Azerbaijani gas to Europe, has been completed. This phase comprised Castoro Sei’s offshore deployment of 36-inch pipes, Saipem’s semi-submersible pipelaying vessel, the above-water interface with onshore assets in Albanian territory, and also hydrotesting facilities to guarantee secure and operational readiness. Operations to link the Italian and Albanian coasts started on January 2020, with tubes being welded and checked on board Castoro Sei, subsequently installed in a steady stretch to the bottom of the Adriatic Sea, beginning from the Italian shores to Albania. (azernews.az, June 10, 2020) Before it, on 20 May 2020, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) AG commenced delivering the first natural gas into a 4-km segment of the pipeline in Albania, between the Albanian-Greek border and up to the Bilisht, TAP metering station. This is the primary phase of the pipeline testing process, in accordance with national and global safety and functional requirements, which guarantees that the system is fully secure and available for services. After this first segment is authorized, gas will begin to be slowly integrated into other parts of the Albanian pipeline and beyond. (tap-ag.com, May 22, 2020).

TAP’s agenda is exclusively associated with upstream improvements, implying that precise date will heavily rely on the progress of the Shah Deniz Stage 2 improvement. (tap-ag.com). According to Vitaly Baylarbayov, SOCAR Deputy Vice President for Investment & Marketing, Trans-Adriatic Gas Pipeline planned to take gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz field to European markets is to be completed at the end of 2020 year. Baylarbayov also noted “The issues that have occurred in the previous years have been fixed. Twenty-five-year agreement has been signed with Italy for the supply of Azerbaijani gas from second stage of the Shah Deniz field, with supply volume of 8 billion cubic meters annually. Currently, no obstacles are expected.” (azernews.az, February 17, 2020).

TAP is crucial, notably for South-East Europe, where energy sector depends heavily on fossil fuels for power generation. “Via links with the Greece-Bulgaria Interconnector (IGB) and presumably the Ionian Adriatic Pipeline (IAP), TAP will be able to supply another 10 billion cubic meters of gas annually in the upcoming years. The 878km long pipeline TAP linking to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) at the Greek-Turkish border will pass Northern Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea before arriving ashore in Southern Italy to connect to the Italian natural gas network,” says Luca Schieppati, TAP Managing Director. (azernews.az, January 29, 2020).

All customers are queued up, expecting supplies. TAP will fulfill Italy’s expanding natural gas requirements. In the following 10 years, Italy will lack much more gas than they currently possess. From that perspective, the Southern Gas Corridor’s potential and its TAP segment are high enough to cover most of this possible shortage.
One of the European Union’s main energy projects TAP costs 5 billion euros. Its shareholding is comprised of main energy companies SOCAR (20 percent), BP (20 percent), Snam (20 percent), Fluxys (19 percent), Enagás (16 percent) and Axpo (5 percent) are specialized in the implementation of multiple complex tasks. (azernews.az, May 14, 2020).

On 28 June 2013, the consortium Shah Deniz publicly declared that it had selected TAP. The high-profile opening ceremony for the pipeline took place on May 17, 2016, in Thessaloniki, Greece. TAP project will fulfill 33% of Bulgarian gas demands, 20% in Greece and approximately 10.5% in Italy. (report.az, May 14, 2020).

TAP is the last and European segment of the Southern Gas Corridor project which also envisages following three projects: Shah Deniz 2, Expansion of South Caucasus Pipeline (Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum), the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP). (azernews.az, February 17, 2020).
A Joint Declaration on the Southern Gas Corridor was signed between the European Union and Azerbaijan in Baku back in 2011. (president.az, July 9, 2019) As a result, Azerbaijan has found itself in a considerably stronger situation in its relations with the EU. If in the beginning Azerbaijan was seen a building site, currently it is becoming main player who will define the shape and the future of the Southern Corridor. It also means that pipelines will offer Azerbaijan more powers in their dealings with the EU.

Azerbaijan’s progressively significant role in the world’s energy system, its distinct place in transnational energy markets as well as its active participation in Europe’s energy security have an important influence on its global, regional, geopolitical and geo-economic position. Taking into consideration all these factors EU also pays special attention to its relations with Azerbaijan.

What is more, the implementation, execution and realization of any pipeline strategies are quite complicated system acquiring keystone skills such as designing effective organization, high level technical skills, forging meaningful collaboration, attention to details, world-class expert knowledge, forging meaningful collaboration and cautious stakeholder consultation. Despite all these challenges and difficulties TAP has definitely progressed a significant way. At the moment TAP is moving further into the construction stage and continues to progress on schedule. At the end of April 2020, the TAP project was 95.1% completed. (tap-ag.com).

Consequently, with the completion of TAP Azerbaijan is almost ready to contribute European Union’s energy security. TAP is aimed at the strengthening the energy stability of Europe and leading to decarbonisation and gas supply diversification. (azertag.az, January 27, 2020).

 

SHABNAM HASANOVA

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