Trio of gas pipelines vie for southern Europe pie

December 08, 2012 - 1:37:00 am

PARIS: Three competing pipelines, South Stream, Nabucco and TAP, have launched projects in the past few years to supply southern Europe with gas from Russia, the Caspian Sea and beyond as Europe seeks to diversify its gas sources:



The Kremlin hopes that the South Stream pipeline will pump Russia’s gas to Europe while bypassing its unpredictable neighbour Ukraine. Russia launched the pipeline on Friday at a ceremony outside the Black Sea city of Anapa with European partners of the Russian gas giant Gazprom in the project—Italy’s ENI, France’s EDF and Germany’s Wintershall.

The 3,600km-long pipeline, with a capacity of 63 billion cubic metres will flow underneath the Black Sea and through the Balkans to supply Gazprom’s big European clients with Russian gas and ensure the security of its energy exports.



The Nabucco natural gas pipeline is backed by the European Union as a way of bypassing Russia to bring Caspian gas to Europe. The pipeline is designed to pump up to 31 billion cubic metres of gas per year from the Caspian Sea via Turkey to Austria, via Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria - thereby avoiding Russia and Ukraine.

The 3,900km pipeline has been plagued by problems, including a lack of potential suppliers, that have repeatedly postponed the start of construction.

In a bid to breathe life back into the project, its shareholders have proposed a shorter, less costly pipeline, known as Nabucco West, which would transport 10-23 billion cubic metres of gas from the Bulgarian-Turkish border to Austria.



The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) aims to bolster Europe’s energy security by building a major gas pipeline to the Caspian that also skirts Russia, transporting gas from the Shah Deniz II field in Azerbaijan to Europe via northern Greece and Albania, before continuing under the Adriatic Sea to southern Italy. TAP currently comprises the Swiss power group EGL, Norwegian Statoil and E.ON Ruhrgas of Germany.