European 'Southern Corridor' pipelines step forward

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Two of the pipeline projects that will make up Europe’s new Southern Corridor natural gas import route have taken major steps forward this month – good news for European consumers at a time of mounting concern over the security Russian exports to Europe because of the dispute with Ukraine over non-payment and pricing.

The project company for the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) announced that it had received environmental approval for both the Italian and Greek sections of the line. “The approvals come after extensive engagement with all those involved,” said the company,” including regular discussion with local communities, public consultation and close co-operation with those national and regional authorities involved in the process.”

The company added that environmental assessment reports prepared for the Italian and Greek governments were in line with EU legislation and followed the international requirements of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Meanwhile, the president of State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR), Rovnag Abdullayev, announced that his company would begin work on its section of the Trans-Anatolia Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) in April next year, according to local news reports.

 TAP Southern Gas Corridor

The Southern Corridor consists of three major pipelines – the South Caucasus Pipeline Expansion in Azerbaijan and Georgia, the TANAP in Turkey and the TAP in Greece, Albania and Italy. (Source: TAP)

A new gas import route for Europe

The Southern Gas Corridor is one of the most complex gas value chains ever developed. Stretching over 3,500 kilometres, crossing seven countries and involving more than a dozen major energy companies, it consists of several separate energy projects representing a total investment of around $45 billion:

  • the Shah Deniz 2 development, which involves drilling wells and producing gas offshore in the Caspian Sea;
  • expansion of the natural gas processing plant at the Sangachal terminal on the Caspian Sea coast in Azerbaijan
  • three major pipeline projects: the South Caucasus Pipeline Expansion (SCPX) in  Azerbaijan and Georgia, the TANAP in Turkey and the TAP in Greece, Albania and Italy;
  • expansion of the Italian gas transmission network; and possibilities for further connection to gas networks in south-eastern, central and western Europe.

The Shah Deniz Consortium (SDC) said September last year that it had concluded 25-year sales agreements for just over 10 Bcm/year of gas to be produced from Shah Deniz 2. The Shah Deniz co-venturers are BP, operator (25.5%), Statoil (25.5%), the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR, 10%), Total (10%), Lukoil (10%), NICO (10%) and TPAO (9%).

Crucial to getting the Shah Deniz gas to Europe will be the thousands of kilometres of new pipeline that will need to be constructed, through Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and into Europe. This new pipeline infrastructure accounts for $15 billion of the project’s total $45 billion cost.

The TANAP system will run a distance of 1,950 km, from the border of Georgia and Turkey in the east to Turkey’s borders with Greece and Bulgaria in the west. The consortium implementing the project consists of SOCAR and two Turkish companies, the pipeline company Botas and Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO).

The 870 km long TAP will connect with the TANAP near the Turkish-Greek border at Kipoi, cross Greece and Albania and the Adriatic Sea, before coming ashore in southern Italy. The project’s shareholders are BP (20%), SOCAR (20%), Statoil (20%), Fluxys (16%), Total (10%), E.ON (9%) and Axpo (5%) (5%).

The routing makes it possible to supply several south-eastern European countries, including Bulgaria, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Croatia. The landfall in Italy will allow transportation of Caspian natural gas to some of Europe’s largest markets, including Germany, France, the UK, Switzerland and Austria. First gas sales to Georgia and Turkey are targeted for late 2018, with first deliveries to Europe following about a year later

(Photo courtesy of TAP.)