By Giorgos Dimitriadis
On 13th of January 2013, the trilateral Intergovernmental Agreement regarding the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) was signed. Greece, Italy and Albania took a big step towards the final choice of TAP as the exclusive one to transport the gas from Azerbaijan to Europe, by the Shah Deniz consortium.
The Agreement was signed by the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos, the Italian Minister of Development Corrado Passera, and the Albanian Minister of Economy, Trade and Energy Edmond Haxhinasto. The ceremony took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Athens, Greece, with the presence of officers from the Azerbaijani government, the TAP consortium (Statoil, Axpo, E.ON Ruhrgas) and the Shah Deniz consortium (BP, Socar, Total). It has to be noted that on the occasion of his visit in Greece, Eric Rubin, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State was also present to the ceremony.
The Italian Minister Corrado Passera pointed out the important role of TAP as a strategic infrastructure to strengthen the security of supplying energy to Europe. Mr. Passera made clear that the plan of his government is to turn Italy into the main gas hub of Southern Europe and added that his country should play an important role within the general European Energy Policy.
On their side, Greek Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras noted the establishment of a new framework of cooperation with Italy and Albania, and the strategic role of the project for the energy security in the European Union. Mr. Samaras mentioned the advantages of TAP compared to the other pipelines planned for the region (shorter route, lower cost, smalled number of countries involved), and said that Greece is determined to attract even more foreign investors in the country.
Finally, the Agreement was welcomed by the European Commissioner for Energy, Günther Oettinger, who expressed the full support of the European Commission towards the Trans Adriatic Pipeline project and added that this agreement has set the legal framework for the pipeline. ”This is another important step towards our aim to get gas directly from the Caspian Region” the EU Energy Commissioner said.
However, for the moment, the members involved in this project can only wait until June 2013 in order to find out if TAP will be the pipeline chosen to transport the Caspian gas in Europe, through the South.