European Development Bank Considers Funding Gas Pipeline

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TIRANA, Albania (AP) — The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is looking to support financially the development of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, which plans to bring gas across the Balkans and on to Italy.

President Suma Chakrabarti told Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama during a visit Tuesday that the pipeline project was of great interest as it would help the region’s energy security and was deemed environmentally sustainable.

“In the energy sector, the EBRD is well aware of the need to secure energy for Europe which is affordable and acceptable from the point of view of climate change. In this context we are positive about the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, a project that develops the three characteristics of energy security, energy access and environmental sustainability,” he told The Associated Press by email.

The so-called TAP, which formally started construction in May, will run for 878 kilometers (550 miles) from Greece’s border with Turkey, through Albania and to southern Italy, including a 105-kilometer (65-mile) stretch under the Adriatic Sea. First deliveries to Europe are expected in 2020.

The EBRD confirmed it has started negotiations for 500 million euros ($549 million) in direct financing and plans to attract up to 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) from a syndicate of commercial banks.

Riccardo Puliti, the bank’s energy and natural resources head, said negotiations started in April and may take 12 to 15 months.

“The bank is analyzing the technical, economic, financial, social, environmental terms and more to see if they are consistent with its policies,” Puliti said by phone from his London office. “We expect that process is over in April next year.”

TAP is a joint project by Britain’s BP, Azerbaijan’s SOCAR, Italy’s Snam, Belgium’s Fluxys, Spain’s Enagas and Switzerland’s Axpo. It is the most western of three sections of the Southern Gas Corridor — a 3,500-kilometer chain of pipelines intended to deliver natural gas from Azerbaijan to Europe.

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