TAP Completes Supply of 13,000 Steel Pipes to Albania

The Trans Adriatic Pipeline consortium has almost completed the supply of steel pipes that are being used for the Albania section of the major project bringing Caspian gas to Europe.

Durres Port authorities say a commercial ship with 4.515 metric tons of steel pipes arrived at the country’s biggest port this week, registering the 14th vessel since the first pipes were unloaded in April 2016. The final 15th shipment is expected by late June.

About 13,000 pipes of mostly 18 metres are being used for the Albanian section of TAP, which includes a route of 215 km onshore and 37 km offshore in the Albanian part of the Adriatic linking it to Italy.

Produced in Germany, the pipes are first stored at a Marshalling yard outside Durres before being taken to the current construction site in southeastern Albania, close to neighbouring Greece.

The weight of one 18-metre pipe is about 16,900 kg while the inside diameter of each pipe is 1.22 metres.

The TAP pipes have been one of the major sources of foreign direct investment in the past year as the country’s biggest foreign investment is already in its peak construction stage after the completion of access roads and bridges, also benefiting local communities.

Albania’s FDI hit a record €1 billion in 2016 mainly as a result of some major energy-related projects such as TAP and the Devoll hydropower plants by Norway’s Statkraft.

Imports of “machinery, equipment and spare parts,” the country’s top imports, rose by 11.4 percent to 130.7 billion lek (€964 million) in 2016, mainly thanks to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline project and its steel pipes.

Last December, Albania finalized contract renegotiations with the Trans Adriatic Pipeline consortium with a new deal that will increase the country’s financial benefits by another €80 million.

Albanian experts have described TAP as an opportunity that would benefit Albania both economically and politically, making the country an important hub of the international gas pipeline for the Western Balkans. TAP would be another opportunity to diversify generation especially in the newly-built Vlora thermal power plant, help the country’s gasification by offering gas, already massively used as a cheaper alternative to electricity for cooking and heating, although the country’s buildings lack gas infrastructure.

With first gas sales to Georgia and Turkey targeted for late 2018, TAP’s first deliveries to Europe will follow approximately in early 2020.

After the withdrawal of Norway’s Statoil, TAP’s shareholding is now comprised of UK’s BP (20 percent), Azerbaijan’s SOCAR (20 percent), Italy’s Snam (20 percent), Belgium’s Fluxys (19 percent), Spain’s Enagás (16 percent) and Switzerland’s Axpo (5 percent). /TiranaTmes/

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