TAP Hopes to Soften Rome's New Stance
Italy’s new environment minister Sergio Costa told Reuters June 6 that the country’s involvement in the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) would be reviewed.
TAP is the final stage of the 3,500-km Southern Gas Corridor to flow Azeri gas from 2020, initially from the Shah Deniz phase 2 project, to the European Union – mainly Italy – which will have cost $40bn, including the upstream costs, to develop. No timeline was indicated by Costa for the review.
In response, TAP’s head of communications Lisa Givert told NGW June 8: “"TAP will continue to work closely with the Italian government and relevant ministries and authorities to share contents, benefits and values of the project for Italian citizens and businesses, in terms of employment, revenues and reduction of natural gas prices.
“TAP will bring natural gas, a sustainable energy commodity to contribute to the ongoing decarbonisation process in Italy and a reliable ally for energy efficiency and renewables, as it provides necessary flexibility to manage the country's energy needs," she added.
NGW also contacted Italy’s economic development ministry, since June 4 headed by Luigi Di Maio, the leader of the 5-Star political party to which Costa belongs, but received no reply. NGW asked if the decision to review TAP was now government policy, and also if having been approved by previous governments such a review might be legally challenged by TAP or others.
Italy’s new government is a coalition of the pro-environment 5-Star and right-wing League, both EU-sceptic parties. They won respectively 32% and 18% of the vote in elections on March 4. It took until June 1 to agree a coalition that also secured the approval of Italy’s president Sergio Mattarella. Its new PM Giuseppe Conte replaces Paolo Gentiloni who for two years led a centre-left coalition.
Much of the pipeline infrastructure for delivering the Azeri gas as far as northwest Turkey is set to be ceremonially opened on June 12 and is already being filled with gas from the already-producing Shah Deniz 1 platform.