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    TAP Still on Track for 2020 Launch


The project consortium has nevertheless asked regulators for more time to complete the pipeline as a precaution.

by: Joe Murphy

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TAP Still on Track for 2020 Launch

The Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) running across Greece and Albania to Italy is almost complete and will ship its first gas to European customers in the fourth quarter of 2020 as planned, a spokesman for its operator told NGW.

"The TAP project is more than 97% complete and reconfirms the target of transporting first gas to Europe by the end of 2020," TAP's head of external affairs, Vugar Veysalov, said.

The pipeline has already been filled with gas from the Greek-Turkish border up to its compressor station in Fier, Albania, the representative said, as part of its testing and commissioning. The testing and commissioning of its offshore and Italian sections is yet to come.

TAP represents the third and final section of a network of pipelines to carry gas from the offshore Shah Deniz field westwards. The Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (Tanap) that connects with TAP at the Greek-Turkish border was completed last year. Its operating consortium consists of BP, Azerbaijan's Socar, Italy's Snam, Belgium's Fluzys, Spain's Enagas and Switzerland's Axpo.

TAP in 2013 secured an exemption from some provisions in the EU gas directive, including rules on third-party access (TPA). It is also exempt from regulated tariffs and from ownership unbundling requirements. But the exemption required TAP to be operational within six years, or by June 2019.

The consortium in 2014 successfully got this deadline extended to December 2020. Although it expects the pipeline to be ready this year, in June it applied and obtained a second delay from national regulators until December 2021. This step was taken as a precaution because of the risk of problems outside the consortium's control, Veysalov said.

"The project has faced several major impacts, beyond its control, mainly with reference to permitting/regulatory obstacles, severe safety and security breaches, suspension of construction activity due to multiple legal proceedings, unforeseen geotechnical/natural events, as well as the wide-ranging effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the other factors mentioned above," the spokesman said.

"TAP will endeavour to commence first gas deliveries by the end of the year," he continued. "Nonetheless, should the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic persist, TAP will continue to hold a valid TPA exemption beyond 2020, complying with the European regulation." Applying for the exemption could have taken time so making a submission later in the year was not feasible, he said.