E.On Ruhrgas joins Trans Adriatic Pipeline

Christopher E. Smith
OGJ Pipeline Editor

HOUSTON, May 21 -- Statoil and EGL announced May 20 the divestment of a combined stake of 15% in the Trans Adriatic Pipeline project (TAP) to E.On Ruhrgas. The parties described the move as strategic and as a significant step in the realization of the TAP project.

TAP remains open to additional partners joining the project, with EGL singling out companies active in pipeline construction and gas distribution as desirable candidates.

TAP would connect existing and planned gas transportation grids in southeastern Europe with systems in western Europe via Italy, the Adriatic Sea, Albania, and Greece. The partner companies said its realization would ensure Europe has direct and cost-efficient access to the major gas reserves in the Caspian region and the Middle East.

Statoil holds a 25.5% stake in the south Caspian Sea’s Shah Deniz field.

Iranian gas also could be shipped through TAP. Iran’s IGAT IX pipeline (also termed Europe Gas Export Line), slated for completion in 2014, will move South Pars 9-10 gas 1,863 km from Asalouyeh to the Turkish border. Iran has expressed interest in finding an international partner on a build-own-operate basis for the balance of IGAT IX, which could link with either TAP or the proposed Nabucco pipeline for exports further west (OGJ, Feb. 15, 2010, p. 50).

TAP’s route extends 520 km, including a 115-km offshore section crossing the Adriatic, using 48-in. OD pipe for the onshore segments and 36-in. OD pipe for the crossing. Initial capacity of the €1.5 billion project is set at 10 billion cu m/year, with an option to expand to 20 bcm/year. Route assessment surveying began in Albania in July 2009. Completion of the project was once been set for 2012, but this was based on a still-pending final investment decision having been made in second-half 2009.

The new shareholder structure of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline project now has EGL holding a 42.5% share, Statoil holding a 42.5% share, and E.On Ruhrgas holding 15%.

The companies expect regulatory approval of the deal by the end of June.

Contact Christopher E. Smith at chriss@ogjonline.com.

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