No sooner had the fanfares stopped thundering at the EU’s jubilee summit, dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome (1957) with loud statements made by the EU leaders, than the manifestations of odious movements with eloquent names “Northern League”, “Five Stars” and others followed. Manipulating with trustful public opinion, they are trying quite successfully to at least stop progression of results attained by EU if not break them (http://caspianenergy.net/en/oil-and-gas/41017-tap and http://caspianenergy.net/en/oil-and-gas/41031-tap).
“EU will continue on its way on March 25, following its clear guidelines like by the aid of compass: needs, interests and feelings of the European peoples. The European Union starts from the people of Europe”, Prime Minister of Italy Paolo Gentilioni emphasized in Versailles at the end of the March meeting with leaders of France, Spain and Germany. According to him, Europe needs to focus on growth and investments so that countries, facing tough times, take EU not like a source of their problems but of their possible solution. In this regard, he reminded about a “White paper” adopted by the European Commission, which, according to him, presents frames of further development of the European Union.
As if making mockery of these plans, a comedian, an actor and blogger Beppe Grillo, who heads the “Five Stars” movement and deliberately dresses up white clothes, has been organizing campaigns of the "No TAP" committee.
But what does TAP project mean to the EU citizens about the well-being of whom the European leaders care so much.
What does TAP mean to EU citizens?
TAP is an integral part of the multi-billion Southern Gas Corridor project which will ensure transportation of natural gas, produced within the framework of the second stage of development of the giant Azerbaijani field Shah Deniz (recoverable reserves 1,200 bcm), to Europe. The length of the pipeline is 878km. 545km will cross through Greece, 215km through Albania, 105km along the bed of the Adriatic Sea and 8km in South Italy. The highest point of the pipeline will be the mountains of Albania (1,800m) while the lowest one will be on the seabed (820m). TAP will be linked with the TANAP gas pipeline on the Turkish-Greek border. TANAP is designed for transportation of gas from Caspian fields to the western border of Turkey.
The first gas supplies to Georgia and Turkey through TANAP are scheduled for the end of 2018. The first supply of Azerbaijani gas to Europe will start in 2020. The shareholders of TAP are BP (20%), SOCAR (20%), Snam S.p.A. (20%), Fluxys (19%), Enagás (16%) and Axpo (5%).
TANAP construction will consist of 4 stages. The carrying capacity of the pipeline will be increased to 16bcm per year in 2020 (10 bcm to Europe and 6 bcm to Turkey), up to 23 bcm in 2023 and up to 31 bcm in 2026.
As we see, only an 8km section will be laid within the South Italian territory. Of course it can be assumed that Caspian gas for Beppe Grillo will be like a ‘drop in the ocean, given the scales of the Italian market. But what does this project mean to Greece where tens of thousands of new working places to be created, for Albania which finds this gas pipeline a salvation in current economic conditions, for Croatia which will be become a new energy hub by getting linked to TAP via the Ionian-Adriatic gas pipeline supported by the EU? It is hard to overestimate the importance of this small EU-wide, but important strategic project for Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina. In essence, considering today's tough competitive conditions of the European market, TAP is more of a social project than a commercial one. Azerbaijan, as a country which owns gas, can always sell its gas on closer markets, for instance to Gazprom which offered to buy the entire gas of Shah Deniz for a market price in 2010, or Iran which has a big demand for gas in its northern part, as well as to Turkey and China. Or Azerbaijan can simply sell it on the domestic market. It is also possible to combine all these options.
And if Mr. Grillo and leader of other right-wing radical movements want to become the leaders of today's Italy, they at least will have to think of not only the fate of 216 olive trees in the region of Apulia...
As is known, today's united Europe began much earlier than 1957, namely with massive economic assistance - the Marshall Plan, which helped Germany and other countries to restore the post-war economy. And, perhaps, European leaders should show European solidarity in practice as early as today, preventing the violation of the real European values - interests of their citizens.
What would the present European leaders celebrate on March 25 if there were no L.Erhard or Konrad Adenauer reforms implemented, or Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle efforts made following the Marshall plan?
What would the successors of “Neville Chamberlain’s policy of compromise” or those of the French ministers who yielded France to the mercy of Hitler and pronounced a death penalty to Charles de Gaulle in 1942 for his policy of resistance to the “plague of the 20th century” come to?
What else is it, if not a new “plague of the 21st century” or a result of those destructive forces which already twice - in 1914 and 1939 - destroyed all manifestations of the present European values and everything on their way altogether?
And even if such comparison sounds like a grotesque exaggeration, the events occurring to Europe’s only strategically important energy security project of Southern Gas Corridor are meaningful and worth the closest attention.
Natalya Aliyeva, Editor-in-Chief of Caspian Energy