EU unveils funding list for gas, power projects

Mon Oct 14, 2013 7:29am EDT

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* Funding of 5.85 bln euros to be shared among 250 projects

* TAP on European Commission's list

* Projects also eligible for fast-track planning approval

By Barbara Lewis and Nina Chestney

BRUSSELS/LONDON, Oct 14 (Reuters) - The European Commission unveiled on Monday a list of 250 power and gas projects eligible to share 5.85 billion euros ($7.93 billion) of funding as part of plans to curb reliance on Russian gas and create a single energy market.

The funds will be shared among trans-European energy infrastructure projects from 2014 to 2020 with the aim of helping EU countries integrate their energy markets and diversify sources of supply, the bloc's executive arm said.

The list includes up to 140 projects in the electricity transmission and storage sector, around 100 projects in gas transmission, storage and liquefied natural gas (LNG), and several oil and smart-grid projects, a statement showed.

One of the most high-profile projects on the list is the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), selected by a consortium in June to ship Azeri gas and help reduce the European Union's dependence on Russian supplies.

The TAP pipeline will collect Azeri gas in Turkey and carry it across Greece and Albania before reaching southern Italy, stretching 870 km (540 miles).

Other schemes on the list include a Baltic LNG terminal and infrastructure upgrades in the eastern Baltic Sea area, aimed at ending the isolation of Baltic states and curbing their almost total dependence on Russia.

A gas pipeline from Bulgaria to Austria via Romania and Hungary is also on the list, as well as a gas link from offshore Cyprus to Greece via Crete.

The full list can be viewed here:

TOWARDS A SINGLE MARKET

The Commission hopes the funds will trigger more private investment. It has been estimated that 100 billion euros is needed to improve transmission lines as part of a single, connected EU energy market with an increasing share of renewable power.

The projects will also benefit from fast-tracked planning and less administrative costs, the EU executive said.

Under the streamlined process, approval should take a maximum of three years and six months. The Commission, utilities and infrastructure companies complain that local opposition has held up projects for years, even decades.

The European Commission had aimed to complete its single energy market by 2014 as part of a policy to achieve sustainable and secure energy supplies, but admitted this deadline would not be achieved.

While EU policymakers strive to diversify supplies, part of the Russian response has been the giant South Stream pipeline through the Black Sea and Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary and Slovenia to northeast Italy. This was not on the EU list.

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