"TAP is more than 84% complete. Between Greece and Albania, around 97% of pipes are already in the ground. In Italy, works are under way at the pipeline receiving terminal and the micro-tunnel site," Schieppati said.
TAP project, worth 4.5 billion euros, is one of the priority energy projects for the European Union. The project envisages transportation of gas from Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz Stage 2 to the EU countries.
Connecting with the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) at the Greek-Turkish border, TAP will cross Northern Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea before coming ashore in Southern Italy to connect to the Italian natural gas network. The project is currently in its construction phase, which started in 2016.
Once built, TAP will offer a direct and cost-effective transportation route opening up the vital Southern Gas Corridor, a 3,500-kilometer long gas value chain stretching from the Caspian Sea to Europe. TAP shareholders include BP (20%), SOCAR (20%), Snam S.p.A. (20%), Fluxys (19%), Enagás (16%) and Axpo (5%).
Head of the 'Caspian Barrel' Center for Oil Research Ilham Shaban, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza, noted mutual benefit of the Southern Gas Corridor project for Azerbaijan, Turkey and Europe. "Of course, gas export from Azerbaijan started in 2007, but all these years we had only limited opportunities to supply gas to regional markets in Georgia and Turkey, but now our country will be able to export gas to large consumers on the European market for many decades. This will ensure the transition from the traditional status of the oil exporter to the status of a gas power," he explained.
"In fact, Azerbaijan's current smooth connection to the European markets is the opening of confirmed reserves of 2.6 trillion cubic meters of gas to foreign consumers. By opening the Southern Gas Corridor, we are strengthening the soil of the European and global market for us, attracting further investments for our development and ensuring long-term revenues of the republic," Shahban concluded.
Energy expert Rovshan Ibragimov, in turn, pointed to the transition of Azerbaijan to being a major gas exporter with the implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor. "The commissioning of this pipeline will allow the export of large volumes of natural gas to the markets of Turkey, which will happen on June 12, the markets of Bulgaria, Greece, Italy after 2020, and, possibly, the market of Albania. Thus, in addition to the status of the oil exporter, Azerbaijan also becomes a major gas supplier. Even if over time, oil production will be reduced, it will be offset by gas," he said.
"Thus, Azerbaijan is becoming an even more active participant in ensuring the energy security of the countries along the Southern Gas Corridor and an important hydrocarbon exporter in the European region. In time, Azerbaijan may turn into a hub for delivering gas to European consumers, first of all, from Turkmenistan. Azerbaijan is also one of the sources of diversification of natural gas supplies to European countries, which further increases its macro-regional importance," Rovshan Ibrahimov concluded.