February 1, 2017 / 4:29 PM / 3 years ago

TAP gas pipeline can gauge customer interest in capacity: executives

ATHENS (Reuters) - The Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) that will take gas from Azerbaijan to Europe is in a position to offer capacity on the line via so-called “open seasons” to gauge interest among potential customers, senior TAP executives said on Wednesday.

The 870-km (540-mile) pipeline will link Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field with Italy, crossing through Georgia, Turkey, Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea. It is the largest attempt so far to bring new supply sources to European consumers.

Around 10 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year of Azeri gas should reach Europe by 2020 through TAP as well as the South Caucasus Pipeline through Georgia and the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) through Turkey.

“We have prepared the ground for 200 kilometers out of a total of 550 kilometers that the Greek section will run,” Rikard Scoufias, TAP’s country manager for Greece, said on the sidelines of an energy forum in Athens. “We are on track.”

TAP can offer capacity via “open seasons” in line with European legislation, its commercial and external affairs director Ulrike Andres said.

The 5-billion-euro project was cleared by European regulators in March last year as part of Europe’s drive to secure energy supplies.

The aim is to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian gas. Together with another natural gas pipeline scheme, the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB), it is also seen as an opportunity to turn Greece into a southern Europe energy hub.

Russian gas producer Gazprom said last week it was discussing using TAP and another pipeline scheme, the Interconnector Turkey Greece Italy (ITGI) Poseidon, to supply Europe with gas.

The United States has pushed Greece to stick with TAP. The U.S. ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt, who was speaking at the energy forum, said TAP, IGB and LNG terminals needed to be protected “against other proposed schemes which threaten Europe’s energy security.”

Moving forward with ITGI-Poseidon and Nord Stream 2, two projects that will exclusively bring Russian gas to Europe would “exacerbate European dependence on Russian gas and destroy opportunities for diversification over the next 25 years,” Pyatt told the conference.

Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou and Karolina Tagaris. Editing by Jane Merriman

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