TAP gas line picks SocGen for advice

March 19, 2013 at 8:05 AM

BAAR, Switzerland, March 19 (UPI) -- Choosing Societe Generale as the financial overseer of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline brings the project one step closer to reality, Director Kjetil Tungland said.

TAP and members of the Shah Deniz consortium in Azerbaijan announced Tuesday they selected the investment bank to provide financial guidance for its preparatory and construction phases.

"Today's nomination is another step in making the Trans Adriatic Pipeline a reality," Tungland, the TAP managing director, said in a statement. "TAP's financial strength is well-known -- our offer remains the most strategic and compelling commercially, not least because we are the only pipeline that does not require public funds."

Societe Generale serves as the financial adviser for the $9.5 billion Nord Stream natural gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea. Nord Stream is one of Russian gas company Gazprom's means to diversify a European gas export market that depends heavily on Soviet-era pipelines in Ukraine.

Political disputes between Ukraine and Russia have exposed vulnerabilities in the regional gas market.

TAP is part of the Southern Corridor of transit networks supported by the European Union for non-Russian gas.

The BP-led Shah Deniz consortium is expected by June to choose between TAP and the more ambitious Nabucco West pipelines as the conduit for Azeri natural gas.

"This appointment is further validation of the strength of our proposal," Tungland said.

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