Europe gives key nod to planned gas pipeline

May 20, 2013 at 6:48 AM

BRUSSELS, May 20 (UPI) -- The European Commission cleared the way for the planned Trans Adriatic natural gas pipeline to offer Azeri natural gas to consumers, a consortium announced.

The TAP pipeline said it received a third-party access exemption for an initial capacity of 350 billion cubic feet of natural gas from Azerbaijan.

"The decision means that TAP can offer capacity for export of gas volumes from Azerbaijan to Europe for a period of 25 years," the pipeline group said from Brussels.

Norwegian major Statoil and Swiss energy company Axpo lead the pipeline consortium, which includes Germany counterpart E.ON.

TAP is up against the more ambitious Nabucco West pipeline, which is designed to carry Azeri gas from the Turkish border to southern European consumers. TAP would cross through parts of the Adriatic Sea on its way to European markets.

The BP-led consortium working offshore Azerbaijan is expected by pick between Nabucco West and TAP by June.

"(The commission's) signature means that we now have all of the agreements we require ahead of the Shah Deniz consortium's decision next month," TAP Managing Director Kjetil Tungland said in a statement.

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