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ATHENS, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Greece, Italy and Albania will sign on Feb. 13 in Athens an agreement that seals their support for a natural gas pipeline project to cross their territories, a spokesman for Greece's Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.
The intergovernmental agreement is a condition to build the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), a project to link Azerbaijan's giant Shah Deniz II field with the three countries and beyond to western Europe.
"The agreement will be signed on Feb. 13 in Athens," the spokesman said. A TAP source confirmed the date.
TAP is one of two competing projects to carry gas from Shah Deniz to Europe, which is keen to reduce its dependence on existing suppliers including Russia. TAP's shareholders are Swiss energy company Axpo (42.5 percent), Norway's Statoil (42.5 percent) and E.ON Ruhrgas of Germany (15 percent).
Its rival Nabucco West includes Austria's OMV, Germany's RWE, Hungary's MOL and Turkey's Botas.
The Shah Deniz consortium, which comprises BP, Statoil, Azeri energy firm SOCAR and Total, has a 50-percent equity option in both rival projects. It is expected to choose one of the two pipeline contenders by mid-2013.
Greece, Italy and Albania had signed a preliminary agreement to back TAP back in September (Reporting by Harry Papachristou)