New natural gas pipeline progressing


Planners behind a new natural gas pipeline for the European market said contractors are invited to bid on offshore construction work in the Adriatic Sea.

“I am delighted to invite companies, including those from TAP’s host countries, to submit expressions of interest [for offshore work],” Knut Steinar Kvindesland, procurement director for the Trans Adriatic pipeline, said in a Tuesday statement.

The TAP project consortium said it’s inviting companies to bid on the construction and supply of 65 miles of pipeline through the Adriatic Sea. The greatest depth of the planned pipeline section between the coasts of Albania and southern Italy is about one half mile.

British energy company BP leads a project consortium tapping into natural gas off the coast of Azerbaijan. The company has awarded more than $1 billion in development contracts since selecting the TAP as its option for Azeri gas in 2013.

TAP is covered under a European network of pipelines dubbed the Southern Corridor, which are meant to add diversity to a regional market influenced heavily by Russia.

European countries get about 20 percent of their gas reserves from Russia. Most of that runs through the Soviet-era pipeline network in Ukraine and ongoing conflict and economic issues there add a layer of risk to European energy security.

Russian energy company Gazprom said it may close the spigot on Ukraine unless Kiev settles some of its outstanding debt. Debt rows in the winters of 2006 and 2009 left European markets starved for natural gas briefly.

Federica Mogherini, foreign policy chief for the European Union, met in Brussels with Ukrainian and Russian representatives to discuss the latest natural gas issue.

“I am reassured that the supply of gas to the EU markets remains secure,” she said in a Monday statement.

TAP would connect to the Trans-Anatolian natural gas project running through Turkey to the Greek border. The pipeline consortium, which has headquarters in Switzerland, said it aims to begin offshore construction by May.

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