Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras inaugurated yesterday (17.5) the construction of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) at a special ceremony in Thessaloniki. Planned to operate in 2019, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) will bring gas from the vast natural gas field Shah Deniz in Azerbaijan, via western Turkey to Greece, Albania and across the Adriatic to Italy. The TAP is 870 kilometers long, running from Komotini in northeastern Greece to Puglia, Italy.

During his address, Tsipras said that the pipeline would usher Greece and Europe into a “new era,” noting that TAP’s construction comes at a crucial time for both Greece’s economy and the broader region around it: “The Trans Adriatic Pipeline, opening the vitally important 3,500-kilometre Southern Gas Corridor, is a regional cooperation project, not just of major economic significance, but also of great geostrategic significance. In addition to diversifying energy supply sources and energy security for Europe, the project can help make energy a “bridge of cooperation and prosperity for all in our region, not a source of exclusions, domination, crises and conflict”, he underlined.

“The pipeline will transport up to 10 billion cubic metres of gas from Azerbaijan to Europe each year, while this capacity can increase to 20 billion in the future. With a budget that exceeds 1.5 billion euros, TAP is one of the largest direct foreign investments in Greece, placing the country for the first time on the energy map and the pipeline map” Tsipras said, adding that the project is expected to create 8,000 jobs for Greek companies and heavy industries supplying the materials.

According to foreign dignitaries speaking at the event, TAP will create new conditions for Europe’s energy security. The Vice-President of the European Commission for Energy Union, Maros Sefcovic, described the inauguration as a “historic day”, noting that the Southern Gas Corridor is “the biggest construction project of our time.” “The realization of the Southern Gas Corridor will be a turning point from centralized markets with single dominant suppliers to mixed and diverse energy markets; from a world where each country had its own energy plans into a coherent regional strategy where countries cooperate together along common interests; from the assumption that the Caspian Sea is too far away for the European market to creating an integrated energy infrastructure linking Caspian resources to European consumers,” he said. “Today’s ceremony is the living proof that this is technically possible, that it’s economically viable, and that it’s politically beneficial for all parties involved.”

On his part, U.S. Special Envoy for Energy Affairs Amos Hochstein said the construction of the pipeline will bring new hope for stability to all the countries along the TAP route and the wider region.

Finally, according to TAP AG CEO Ian Bradshaw, the beginning of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) construction is a “historic moment” for achieving Europe’s energy goals. Bradshaw said the project was expected to be delivered on schedule, thanking the Greek PM Alexis Tsipras and Greek authorities for their support. He also noted that the project will help improve the quality of life of people living along its route, bringing millions of euros in direct investments and thousands of jobs, both directly and indirectly.

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