BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — BP, the main developer of the huge Shah Deniz gas field in the Caspian Sea, confirmed on Friday that the pipeline to Europe will go through Greece and then under the sea into Italy.
Regional BP president Gordon Birell said at an official ceremony in Baku, Azerbaijan's capital, that the project was awarded to the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, or TAP. The other option, the Nabucco West venture, would have run across Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria.
TAP is comprised of Norway's Statoil, Axpo of Switzerland and the German firm E.ON. Its pipeline will run nearly 800 kilometers (500 miles) across northern Greece and into southern Albania before traveling under sea to Italy.
BP holds 25.5 percent of the Shah Deniz project, while Statoil holds another 25.5 percent. Azerbaijan's state oil and gas company, Socar, holds 10 percent, as do Russia's Lukoil, Iran's Nico and France's Total. The remaining 9 percent is held by Trao.
Birell said the consortium spent two years determining the best route for the pipeline that will carry Azerbaijan's first gas to Europe. The gas from Shah Deniz's second stage is to go into production in 2018, with the first supplies to be transported to Europe in 2019. Birell said 10 billion cubic meters of gas will be exported annually.
The choice of TAP was expected after Austrian power utility OMV said Wednesday that the Nabucco venture it was backing had not been selected.
Socar president Rovnaq Abdullayev said at Friday's ceremony that Azerbaijan and the European Union are still discussing other possible routes for an additional pipeline to carry Azerbaijan's considerable gas supplies to Europe. The Shah Deniz reserves are estimated at 1.2 trillion cubic meters.
The European Union and the United States both enthusiastically support building connections to Azerbaijan's gas as a way to reduce dependence on Russian gas.