TAP on tap, Russia’s Turkish Stream picks up steam

The process to construct the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) is moving forward, top-level sources at Greece’s Energy and Environment Ministry said on November 23, adding that Athens is also in discussion with Moscow over the expansion of Russia’s Turkish Stream pipeline from the Turkish-Greek border to Italy.

“The interest in Russia’s Turkish Stream in higher than ever before because it seems that there are more countries in Europe that want to be involved, especially Italy and France,” sources said, adding that before it was just Greece and Russia pushing the project.

Greece’s Environment and Energy Minister Panos Skourletis discussed Turkish Stream with Russian deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich on November 20 in Athens. The Russian deputy premier also discussed the project with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Skourletis will meet with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak on December 2 in Moscow where he will discuss Turkish Stream’s expansion via the southern European gas pipeline from Turkey’s border to Italy via the Poseidon pipeline (Interconnection Turkey Greece Italy – ITGI), the sources said.

They noted that ITGI, TAP and IGB are on the European Commission’s list of key energy infrastructure projects (Projects of Common Interest, PCI).

The Tesla pipeline could also be used to expand Turkish Stream and reach Austria from Greece. The fact that ITGI and Tesla are PCI projects could help the expansion of Turkish Stream pipeline to Europe, sources said.

“When we’re talking about a multilateral energy policy we need both TAP and the Russian pipeline, especially given that Russia is moving forward with Nord Stream 2,” the sources at the Greek Energy Ministry said, adding that the expansion of Turkish Stream “serves especially our interests” and Greece considers it as a positive development.

The sources noted that TAP is a strategic project but Greece is in the process of changing the terms of the agreement so that it brings more benefits to the Mediterranean country, namely compensations for the passage of this pipeline through public land and forests and the doubling of corporate social responsibility to €32 million to be paid by the consortium over five years.

The ministry sources also noted that “despite previous problems” the Interconnector Greece Bulgaria (IGB) is also moving forward.

Skourletis will travel to Sofia on December 10 to sign the Final Investment Decision (FID) for IGB, the sources said.

IGB was planned to ensure an alternative supply to Russian natural gas for Bulgaria through a linkup with TAP that will carry Azeri gas from Shah Deniz field.

The sources at the Greek Environment and Energy Ministry noted that the US special envoy and coordinator for international energy affairs, Amos Hochstein, during his visit to Athens in October, expressed his satisfaction that TAP and IGB are no longer stuck or stalled and will be accelerated in the future.

* New Europe