Italy's Enel interested in 10-20 pct of TAP: source

BRUSSELS/ROME Thu Jul 19, 2012 2:03pm EDT

BRUSSELS/ROME (Reuters) - Italy's biggest power utility, Enel (ENEI.MI), is interested in taking a 10-20 percent stake in the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) pipeline project that aims to pump Azeri gas to Europe, an industry source close to TAP said on Thursday.

TAP is one of a number of competing projects to carry gas from Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz II field to Europe which is keen to reduce its dependence on existing suppliers including Russia.

"Enel has shown an interest in buying a 10-20 percent share of TAP. An expression of interest from Enel could come out in autumn when an interministerial agreement between Italy, Greece and Albania is supposed to be signed on TAP," the source said.

Enel CEO Fulvio Conti said in May his group was interested in taking part in TAP.

An Enel spokeswoman confirmed on Thursday the group's interest in joining the project but declined to comment on the size of a stake.

TAP partners include Norway's Statoil (STL.OL), Swiss EGL and Germany's E.ON Ruhrgas (EONGn.DE).

TAP plans to fund the pipeline with 30 percent equity and 70 percent debt financing with loans coming from private banks and organisations such as the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the source said.

Separately, Italy's Industry Minister Corrado Passera said in Rome the government was committed to make the project an interesting alternative supply route and bring more gas into Italy.

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio and Alberto Sisto; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)

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