Gas: Time running out, TAP calls Italy's backing 'crucial'

Sole option in the running, deadline in mid-2013

26 April, 12:56

(ANSA) - BRUSSELS, APRIL 26 - The TAP gas pipeline project is currently for Italy the ''only option'' on the table for a direct connection to Caspian gas supplies. For this reason ''we are asking for the support of Italian authorities,'' TAP's head of external relations, Michael Hoffman, said today in Brussels. After ITGI was excluded from the Shah Deniz competition, ''we have no time to lose'', underscored Hoffman, who is in Brussels for a series of meetings with European institutions and the embassies of the countries involved in the project. The executive said that the current situation is ''highly competitive'', with two competitors for the other possible route - which would go from Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey to Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria instead of Greece, Albania and Italy. Shah Deniz's final choice will be made in mid-2013, and to win TAP needs Italy's firm support since otherwise it may be left out. Hoffmann added that ''we would be happy to have Italian companies take part.'' The construction of the gas pipeline in the Puglia region would occur in winter and ''there will be no visible impact'' on the territory and marine environment, he claimed. The ball is now in the hands of the Italian government. In May Prime Minister Monti will be paying a visit to Albania and the Tap project is one of the items to be discussed in the talks scheduled with Albania's Prime Minister Sali Berisha. (ANSAmed).

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