Enel wants to join TAP gas project

Enel wants to join TAP gas project

ROME / LONDON - Reuters
Enel wants to join TAP gas project

Italian energy company Enel is studying on alternatives to buy Azeri natural gas. REUTERS photo

Italian Power producer Enel has expressed interest in joining Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) that aims to pump Azeri gas to Europe, boosting TAP’s chances of being picked as the pipeline of choice, analysts have said.

“Enel is interested in projects that bring gas to the country,” Enel Chief Executive Fulvio Conti said on May 2. Asked if such projects included TAP, Conti said “of course.”

Italy had backed a rival pipeline project known as ITGI, in which Edison, Greece’s government-controlled DEPA and Turkey’s Botaş are partners. Analysts have been criticizing the TAP project for its lack of Italian partners.

Producers in the Shah Deniz 2 field in Azerbaijan, led by BP and Statoil, plan to ship around 16 billion cubic metres (bcm) a year through Turkey into Europe from 2017 or 2018.

Analysts have criticised the TAP project for its lack of Italian partners, arguing that a pipeline making landfall in Italy would never secure political backing without local involvement.

Government support

“For the Shah Deniz II partners this (Enel joining TAP) must be good news because it will likely provide more support from the Italian government, something that has been lacking so far,” said Massimo Di-Odoardo, analyst at energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie.

A spokeswoman at TAP said “we would welcome strong companies that can add value and strengthen our concept.”

The ITGI project hit a major obstacle earlier this year when the Shah Deniz II consortium chose the TAP project as a possible route, should it decide on Italy as the destination for its gas.

The Italian government and Edison have since said they remain committed to ITGI.

Another contender is the Nabucco pipeline project, which would transport central Asian gas into Europe via Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary into Austria and western Europe.

Turkey and Azerbaijan have already agreed on a seperate pipeline project to carry the Caspian gas to Eastern Turkey.