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Trans Adriatic Pipeline: economic advantages over the competitors but equal political risks

Abstract

The expectation of the increase of European energy demand, combined with the decrease of the energy sources within the European Union (EU), stresses a growing dependence on energy importation from outside the continent. According to the most important economic outlooks, the ratio of demand that will need to be satisfied through energy importation will rise from 45% to 65% by 2020. The realization of new infrastructures aimed at gas importation from outside is becoming a priority for Europe. About two third of the world gas reserves are located in Russia, the Middle East and the Caspian region. These identified reserves are large enough to satisfy the European energetic demand for more decades. At present however, Europe energy supplies are reliant on the old Russian pipelines that transit countries in unstable relations with Moscow.
In order to reduce this dependence on Russian pipelines, a series of projects have been planned. Among these projects is the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP); a planned pipeline that directly concern Italy.
The principal reason for TAP is the absence of a direct link between Greece and Italy inside the European energy infrastructure system: which has been called the “missing link” of the south. TAP could fill the gap, ensuring a link that will provide direct contact between Greece and Italy, though Albania.
The advantage of TAP is essentially its short length: it is based on the construction of a 520 km gas pipeline, starting in Greece, passing through Albania and the Adriatic Sea, and finally arriving in the Italian region of Apulia, from where it can also supply the European markets. Relying on the gas production capacity, TAP will meet the target of the European demand with a transport capacity of 20 billion cubic meters (bcm)/year.
One of the most important aspects of TAP is that 115 km it will be offshore: the pipeline will be laid down on the seabed of the Adriatic Sea, approximately along the Otranto Canal, at a depth of 820 meters underwater. The total cost of TAP is estimated at 1,5 billion of euro, and the project will be operational starting from 2012.
TAP will be realized through a collaboration between two international energy consortiums: EGL (Elektrizitäts – Gesellschaft Laufenburg AG) and Statoil.
EGL is a commercial energy society based in Switzerland, part of the AXPO Group, one of the most important supplier of energy in the country. EGL is listed on the Swiss Exchange SWX, the Switzerland stock exchange and retains 42,5% of the share in the project. Statoil is the other partner in the TAP project: an energy society based in Norway, with the Norwegian state as its principal shareholder (with 42,5% of the share). Statoil is listed on Oslo Børs and on the New York Stock Exchange and joined the project in 2008, after a joint venture agreement in which the development, the construction and the functioning of the pipeline has been subdivided in equal parts.

Original title: Trans Adriatic Pipeline: economic advantages over the competitors but equal political risks

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