TAP continues to progress its secondary permitting activities
Caspian Energy (CE): Mr. Bradshaw, could you please tell about the initial results of the TAP’s construction at the end of 2016? What objectives have been achieved? How far has the project progressed in percentage terms?
Ian Bradshaw, Managing Director of Trans Adriatic Pipeline AG (TAP): The Trans Adriatic Pipeline is on schedule. I am happy to report that 2016 has been a successful year, with millions of safe hours worked towards the completion of the project.
In Greece, as of mid-January, over 195 km of our right of way have been cleared, 118 km line pipes strung, approximately 94 km welded, 31 km back-filled and 6.5 km fully reinstated. Line pipes continue to arrive to Kavala, Thessaloniki and Alexandroupolis. So far, approximately 60% of the 32,000 line pipes needed to build the 550km Greek section have been delivered.
In Albania, approximately 56 km have been cleared and graded along our route, 52 km line pipes strung, 41 km welded and approximately 29 km back-filled.
This means that between Greece and Albania TAP has now cleared and graded nearly a third of the pipeline corridor (over 250km out of 765km).
Additionally, at the end of 2016, TAP completed the first phase of Albania road infrastructure rehabilitation, comprising the upgrade of approximately 58km of access roads, construction of two new bridges and refurbishment of 40 bridges. This will allow heavy machinery and equipment, including a 60 tonne pipe-bending machine and over a thousand 18-metre pipes weighing up to 16 tonnes, to access remote areas along the pipeline route safely.
Following construction, these upgraded and new access roads and bridges will have the added benefit of being left for local communities to utilise for decades to come. A second phase of road upgrades, consisting of approximately 120 km roads, will be constructed by TAP’s Engineering, Procurement and Construction Pipeline contractor Spiecapag.
In terms of logistics, since April 2016, line pipes continue to arrive to our Durrës main marshalling yard (MMY) via the Durrës port. Up to now, approximately 65% of the 13,000 line pipes needed to build the 215km Albanian section have been delivered.
In Italy, in line with the Single Authorisation permit granted by the Ministry of Economy on 20 May 2015, TAP continues to progress its secondary permitting activities.
Construction activities began in May 2016. Over the summer of 2016, TAP carried out the unexploded ordnance (UXO) and archaeological surveys as well as phytosanitary treatment (spraying of olive trees along TAP’s route, in preparation of moving the olive trees). With the surveys conducted on the San Foca beach in early October and in the maquis (the forest typically found along the Southern Italian coast) in December, all geological studies for the micro-tunnel construction have been concluded.
Also, thus far, we have driven over 15 million kilometres and worked more than 8 million man hours without any major safety incidents, which is a very good performance.
TAP has undertaken more than 120 re-routings in Greece only
CE: What options does TAP consider if reaching a consensus in Apulia Region, Italy, fails? What kind of financial losses could the gas suppliers and European consumers face if the project fails to be implemented by 2020?
Ian Bradshaw: As I was mentioning, in line with the Single Authorisation permit granted by the Ministry of Economy on 20 May 2015, TAP continues to progress its secondary permitting activities in Italy.
At the moment, TAP is proceeding as planned.
TAP transports gas and does not own or sell any of the gas it transports, hence I cannot comment for the gas shippers. However, TAP is a highly strategic gas infrastructure project, which contributes to meeting Europe’s energy security and diversification objectives. New gas supplies will have an important impact on gas to gas competition – thereby offering a more competitive price environment for end consumers.
CE: How possible do you consider bypass routes? Are feasibility studies being prepared for bypass alternatives of the project? How high will be a rise in the project cost?
Ian Bradshaw: TAP has conducted very comprehensive Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIA) together with technical experts and in consultation with those along the pipeline route. Following this extensive engagement, during the design phase, TAP has undertaken more than 120 re-routings in Greece only.
The main pipeline corridor has been identified, it currently stands at 878 km in length, yet some minor refinements and changes are still possible (for instance, bypassing an archaeological site discovered during construction).
TAP progresses every day in the project implementation phase and we remain confident that the project will be completed on budget, on schedule and, above all, safely.
CE: How successfully are financing matters being solved within the framework of the project?
Ian Bradshaw: TAP expects to secure funding from a number of multilateral institutions, such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank, as well as Export Credit Guarantee Agencies of a number of OECD countries involved in the supply of goods and services. In addition, a large proportion of TAP’s financing is foreseen to include commercial lenders.
We are committed to achieve TAP’s financing timetable as soon as possible in 2017.
CE: What are your expectations from the European Commission, the Government of Italy and a meeting of the Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council to be hosted in February 2017 in Baku?
Ian Bradshaw: The Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) Advisory Council provides a high-level platform for the various stakeholders along this complex value chain to discuss progress and challenges and continue to align on project implementation.
As in previous years, we expect political stakeholders to reinforce their commitment to this strategic project as well as its timely implementation.