BRUSSELS, Feb. 29 (UPI) -- Russian plans to build its South Stream natural gas pipeline by December are "irrelevant" when considering rival projects, a TAP official said.
Russia said it wants to start building its South Stream natural gas pipeline by December. Russia sends about 80 percent of its natural gas for European consumers through Ukraine's gas transit system and bilateral disputes have exposed vulnerabilities in the regional energy sector.
Russia has pressed for South Stream and its Nord Stream counterpart while European leaders lobby for a series of pipelines outlined in the so-called Southern Corridor.
Last week the consortium controlling Shah Deniz II natural gas field off the coast of Azerbaijan chose the Trans-Adriatic natural gas pipeline as a possible route to European natural gas consumers.
TAP Managing Director Kjetil Tungland told EurActiv that South Stream, which would run through southern Europe, isn't a concern.
"As long as Shah Deniz is ready and willing to guarantee supplies of gas to Italy via the TAP pipeline, the South Stream project is irrelevant as far as TAP and Shah Deniz are concerned," hold told European news agency EurActiv.
TAP would transport natural gas to European markets through Greece and Albania and then through the Adriatic Sea to Italy.