The consortium developing Azerbaijan’s vast gas reserves officially announced on Friday that it has chosen the Trans Adriatic Pipeline – TAP – to ship natural gas to Europe.
It was a major blow to the rival Nabucco West pipeline consortium which planned a different route further north.
Europe is looking to Azeri gas to reduce its dependence on Russian supplies, which currently account for nearly a third of all EU gas imports.
TAP will connect with a planned pipeline from the Caspian Sea fields through northern Turkey and then run through Greece and Albania to Italy for onward distribution through the rest of Europe.
The project, which is fronted by Norway’s Statoil, Swiss company AXPO and Germany’s E.ON, is due to open in six years time.
The pipeline is expected to pump six billion cubic metres of gas per year to consumers in energy-hungry Turkey and 10 billion each year to Europe.
Nabucco West has said it is now considering reconfiguring to ship gas instead from fields in the Black Sea, off Romania through Hungary to Austria.
The TAP announcement came as Russia’s Gazprom was holding its annual general shareholders’ meeting
Chief Executive Alexei Miller, who said Gazprom will supply more natural gas through pipelines to Europe this year, was of the opinion that the TAP decision meant the death of the Nabucco project. “It doesn’t exist more,” he told reporters.
Miller said the Russian state-run company’s gas exports to Europe were up 10 percent between January and June after they fell last year by about seven percent due to weaker demand.
However he expects profit this year to be down by as much as 10 percent due to rising taxes, lower growth in domestic gas prices and rebates.
Gazprom is revising long-term gas supply contracts with its cash-strapped European clients to avoid losing business.