Trans-Adriatic Gas Pipeline
|This article is part of the Global Fossil Infrastructure Tracker, a project of Global Energy Monitor.|
Trans-Adriatic Gas Pipeline (TAP) is a gas pipeline running from Greece to Italy, via Albania and the Adriatic Sea. The route links Europe to a new gas source in the Caspian (Shah Deniz II).
The Trans Adriatic Pipeline runs for approximately 478km in Greece, 204km in Albania, 105km offshore in the Adriatic Sea and eight kilometers in Italy. The Italian section will run for 45km offshore as well. The pipeline connects with the Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline (TANAP) near the Turkish-Greek border at Kipoi and the TAP Interconnection Gas Pipeline in southern Italy.
- Owner: BP (20%), SOCAR (20%), Snam S.p.A. (20%), Fluxys (19%), Enagás (16%), and Axpo Trading (5%)
- Proposed capacity: 10 billion cubic meters per year, expansion up to 20 billion cubic meters per year
- Length: 878 kilometers / 545 miles
- Status: Operating
- Start Year: 2020
- Associated Projects: Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline, TAP Interconnection Gas Pipeline
The Trans Adriatic Pipeline project was announced in 2003 by Swiss energy company EGL Group (now named Axpo). The feasibility study was concluded in March 2006. Two options were investigated: a northern route through Bulgaria, the North Macedonia and Albania, and a southern route through Greece and Albania, which finally was considered to be more feasible. In March 2007, the extended basic engineering for the pipeline was completed. Greece was opposed to having the route of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline pass through Albania, as it would allow Albania to become the transmission hub for gas in the Western Balkans.
On 13 February 2008, EGL Group and the Norwegian energy company Statoil signed an agreement to set up Trans Adriatic Pipeline AG, a joint venture to develop, build and operate the pipeline. In June 2008, the project company filed an application with the Greek authorities to build a section of the pipeline from Thessaloniki to the Greek-Albanian border.
In January 2009, the TAP project carried out a marine survey in the Adriatic Sea to verify the offshore route for the future gas pipeline. A route assessment survey in Albania started in July 2009. In March 2009, an intergovernmental agreement between Italy and Albania on energy cooperation mentioned TAP as a project of common interest for both countries. In January 2010, TAP opened country offices in Greece, Albania and Italy. In March 2010, TAP submitted an application to Italian authorities for inclusion into the Italian gas network.
In November 2010, TAP started a route refinement survey in northern Greece in preparation for the environmental impact assessment. On 7 September 2011, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline AG (TAP AG) submitted its EU Third Party Access Exemption applications in all three host countries. Exemption will allow TAP AG to enter into long term ship-or-pay gas transportation agreements with the shippers of Shah Deniz II gas.
In February 2012, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline was the first project to be pre-selected and to enter exclusive negotiations with the Shah Deniz Consortium.
In August 2012, consortium partners BP, SOCAR and Total S.A. signed a funding agreement with TAP's shareholders, including an option to take up to 50% equity in the project.
On 28 September 2012, Albania, Greece and Italy confirmed their political support for the pipeline by signing a memorandum of understanding.
On 22 November 2012, the TAP consortium and Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline's partners signed a memorandum of understanding that establishes a cooperation framework between the two parties.
In February 2013, Greece, Italy and Albania signed an intergovernmental agreement.
In June 2013, the project was chosen as a route for gas from Shah Deniz II over the competing Nabucco West project. Later in 2013, BP, SOCAR, Total, and Fluxys became shareholders of the project.
In 2017, the project's general manager estimated the total project cost to be €4.5 billion (about US$5 billion), which is also the same cost estimate that the project promoters submitted to the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas (ENTSOG), an industry group, for their Ten Year Network Development Plan 2020.
As of December 2017, the pipeline was reported to be 50% complete and on track for completion by 2020. However, local and regional resistance, coupled with protests and legal challenges, may slow down the completion of the pipeline or even cause the project to relocate the route of the pipeline. 
The Institute of Energy for South-East Europe noted that in October 2019 the TransAdriatic Pipeline (TAP) was under construction and about 91% complete.
In May 2020, a construction worker died while preparing the construction work for the Snam gas pipeline interconnection between TAP and the Italian gas transportation network in Lecce.
In June 2020, the TAP consortium announced that construction of the 105 kilometre offshore segment of the pipeline across the Adriatic from Albania to Italy had been completed. That same month, the company said it was beginning its initial stage of testing.
At the end of August 2020, the project was reportedly 97.9% complete and the company is confident of delivering the first Azerbaijani gas into Italy in October 2020. Enagás also claimed that the pipeline was on track to start up commercial operations by year-end 2020. However, at the same time, TAP has asked for and received from Italy's regulator the possibility of postponing first delivery of gas until December 2021, principally due to the potential risk of COVID-19 related construction delays.
Offshore Magazine reported on November 17, 2020 that TAP's "commercial operations have started." On December 31, 2020, SOCAR announced that Caspian gas transported by TAP had begun flowing into Italy, Greece and Bulgaria.
At its highest point the pipeline rises to 1,800m in Albania, and reaches its lowest point at 810m in the Adriatic Sea. The proposed route is the shortest possible route in the Southern Gas Corridor. The 870 kilometer transnational pipeline connects to the Italian gas network in Southern Italy and will transport up to 10 billion cubic meters of gas per year. The project also has a provision which will allow for a possible future expansion that would increase the capacity to 20 billion cubic meters of gas per year.
TAP is part of the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) development, linking the Shah Deniz 2 gas field in Azerbaijan to Turkey and Europe and also provides a link to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) near the Turkish-Greek border at Kipoi. The corridor could also be used in the future to deliver gas from the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Eastern Mediterranean. TAP is a key piece in the SGC which ultimately seeks to decrease the EU's dependence on Russian gas.
The onshore section of the pipeline will be built with pipes of 48in diameter. The offshore section will have a diameter of 36in.
TAP has two compressors, one in Greece and the other on the Albanian coast. A pipeline receiving terminal (PRT) and a combined pressure reduction, metering and pigging station will be built in the province of Lecce. It will be linked to the Italian grid.
TAP is one of the European Commission's 'Projects of Common Interest' (PCI), making it eligible for public funding. As a result it was granted €14.3 million (US$15.9 million) of public funding. According to the European Commission, "TAP Pipeline: new onshore and offshore pipeline between Greece/Turkey and Italy with a total length of approx. 878 km (773 km onshore and 105 km offshore). Connecting with TANAP at the Greek-Turkish border, TAP will cross Northern Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea before reaching Southern Italy, where it connects to the Italian gas network. The initial capacity is 10 bcm/y. The power of the compressor station(s) is 90 MW.For the interconnection of TAP with the Greek transmission system a metering and Regulating station (capacity of 142 GWh/d) will be built in Nea Messimvria. Furthermore, a compressor station (27 MW) will be built in Nea Messimvria in order to enable flow from the Greek system to TAP. Commissioning of the last part of the PCI project enabling the Greek gas transmission system to inject gas to TAP will be commissioned in 2024."
Despite persistent protests in the different countries set to host the pipeline, financial close for TAP was reached in December 2018 with an overall finance package of €3.765 billion secured from the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the export credit agencies Bpifrance, Euler Hermes (Germany) and SACE (Italy), and 17 banks: Bank of China, BNP Paribas, Caixa Bank, Crédit Agricole, Helaba, ING, Intesa Sanpaulo, Korea Development Bank, Mizuho, MUFG, Natixis, Siemens Bank, Société Générale, Standard Chartered, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, UBI Banca and UniCredit.
The lending breakdown is:
- EIB: €700 million
- EBRD: €500 million 'A loan' provided by the bank on its own account; €500 million 'B loan' syndicated to 16 commercial banks
- Bpifrance: Lending cover of €450 million
- Euler Hermes: Lending cover of €280 million
- SACE: Lending cover of €700 million
- Bank of China, BNP Paribas, Caixa Bank, Crédit Agricole, Helaba, ING, Intesa Sanpaulo, Korea Development Bank, Mizuho, MUFG, Natixis, Siemens Bank, Société Générale, Standard Chartered, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, UBI Banca and UniCredit: €635 million
European Ombudsman investigation into the EIB's financing for TAP and TANAP
Following a complaint lodged by the environmental NGOs CEE Bankwatch Network, Counter Balance, Re:Common and Friends of the Earth Europe, in December 2020 the European Union's Ombudsman opened an investigation into the EIB's financing in 2018 of both TAP and the related Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline (TANAP). At issue is why the EIB agreed to provide major loans for both pipelines without appropriate assessment of their climate impact. The EIB's carbon footprint assessment of TAP projected 2.5 times fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the figure in the environmental and social impact assessment which was submitted by the consortium building the pipeline. In the case of TANAP, the EIB's estimate was 3.5 times lower than that in the project's environmental and social impact assessment. The NGOs' complaint to the Ombudsman, who investigates alleged maladministration by EU agencies such as the EIB, maintains that the EIB's approval of finance for the two projects constitutes a failure of the bank to uphold its own standards concerning the climate impacts of the projects it considers for financial support.
While it has been reported that the project is anywhere between 50% and 66% of the way complete, work on the project’s Italian section has stalled and is behind schedule due to opposition from both residents in the town of Melendugno and local and regional authorities. Construction work is moving forward both in Albania, even though there is widespread dissatisfaction among stakeholders owing to a flawed compensation and land acquisition process conducted by the TAP company. Construction is also progressing in Greece, despite protests and resistance from communities and farmers in the north-east of the country related to the pipeline’s routing through both highly fertile agricultural land and seismic areas close to residences.
Melendugno in the region of Puglia in Southern Italy has been the site of continuous protests against the pipeline. The town of Melendungno was reportedly put on lock-down by Italian authorities using a Mussolini-era law, ordinance Decreto Regio (Royal Decree) No 773, which dates back to 1931. This ordinance put in effect by the central government's military police effectively put the territory surrounding TAP construction site on lock-down and under the full discretion of the police.
The specific area of confrontation – between local residents, officials, and activists on one side, and the police and the central government on the other – was sparked by the uprooting of thousands of centuries-old olive trees to make way for the pipeline. During the lock-down, laborers found it difficult to enter the site for planting while residents also complained of property destruction. Up to this point, protesters had been generally successful in staving off the progress of the pipeline construction, delaying the project and frustrating the consortium of companies involved in the development of the project.
Court case against TAP
In December 2019, the public prosecutor Valeria Farina Valaori issued a court summons accusing the Trans Adriatic Pipeline and 18 managers of the company and its contractors of operating with invalid environmental permits and an invalid authorisation from the Italian government during construction work in the period November 2016 to July 2019. Both permits, according to the prosecutor, were delivered without taking into account the 'cumulative impact' of the project, and are therefore in breach of Italian and European legislation. The TAP company is also accused of allegedly failing to waterproof various construction sites, as well as the discharging of industrial wastewater which could have led to contamination of water sources by dangerous substances, including hexavalent chromium. The first trial hearing was held in Lecce in September 2020.
In Albania and Greece
Farmers in both Albania and Greece who are being affected by the pipeline have been at the forefront of the protests in their respective countries. Farmers in Greece have attempted to block the pipeline entirely while Albanian farmers are seeking elusive compensation for the use of their land by the pipeline's construction and development.
In Albania, many farmers received compensation for their land but were not at all satisfied, explaining that their loss of income and property was not covered. In addition to the lack of satisfactory compensation necessary to maintain many farmers' livelihood, the rules and mechanisms for compensation were considered non-transparent and vague, leaving farmers in a vulnerable position.
In Greece, farmers went not consulted about the pipeline's path which will pass over valuable, fertile agricultural land. While some farmers were offered compensation in Kavala, they felt the compensation was not nearly enough to offset the monetary loss from the pipeline's development. Others were in the dark about the pipeline's development on their land until diggers arrived.
In Serres, protests ensued while community residents' concerns over a planned gas compressor station in a nearby floodplain went unheeded. The station will be sited close to villages and there is no emergency plan in place. Efforts demanding that the local authority hold TAP accountable had failed.
Close to a thousand workers are at the TAP site every day from all over Italy and Europe. Many come from the North of Italy, which has been hit hard by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Workers have stated they haven't been given the proper personal protective equipment necessary for working through a respiratory disease pandemic, and are not tested regularly. As of April 2, 2020, there have been two confirmed cases of COVID-19 amid TAP employees. In Italy, only essential construction is permitted to continue during the COVID-19 pandemic, but TAP representatives have argued that TAP should be considered critical infrastructure and be allowed to continue. Local movements and mayors have demanded that the government halt construction on TAP, arguing that since the project is not currently used for energy it is not essential infrastructure. One of the nine construction ships around Melundugno is now in quarantine, but there have been no other changes in work plans.
ENTSOG identifies the project as "TRA-F-51".
The SciGrig_Gas IGG gas transmission network data set refers to the project as "INET_PL_6580", "INET_PL_6581", "INET_PL_658", "INET_PL_6583", "INET_PL_6584", "INET_PL_6585", "INET_PL_6586", "INET_PL_6587", "INET_PL_6588", and "INET_PL_6589". 
The Trans-Adriatic Gas Pipeline was added to the European Commission's Projects of Common Interest (PCI) list as 7.1.3.
Articles and resources
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