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TAP Is Open to Greek and Italian Partners, Executive Says

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Feb. 13 (Bloomberg) -- The Trans Adriatic Pipeline AG (TAP) venture would welcome partners from Greece and Italy after the two countries and Albania signed an agreement backing the project, TAP Managing Director Kjetil Tungland said.

“TAP shareholders are still welcoming new partners and as TAP management we feel it would be good to have Italian and Greek partners,” Tungland said in an interview in Athens today. He declined to comment on whether TAP shareholders were in discussions with Greek state-controlled gas supplier Depa SA and Enel SA, Italy’s biggest utility.

The 800-kilometer (500 miles) TAP pipeline project is being developed by Statoil ASA, EON Ruhrgas AG and EGL AG to initially ship 10 billion cubic meters of Azeri gas a year to Italy via Greece and Albania from the Turkish border. The proposal is competing with the OMV AG-led Nabucco West development, which would run for 1,300 kilometers from Turkey to Austria via Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, for the right to export the fuel.

Albania, Greece and Italy signed in Athens today an agreement that gives the full political backing of the three countries to the TAP project. A group led by BP Plc, which is developing the second phase of Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz gas field, will choose between TAP and Nabucco in June. The group includes the State Oil Co. of Azerbaijan, or Socar.

The agreement provides “the necessary regulatory and legal framework as well as stability over the lifetime of the project which is necessary before investments can be made,” Tungland said. “Azerbaijan now knows the full commitment of the three countries to the TAP project.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Tugwell in Athens at ptugwell1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jerrold Colten at jcolten@bloomberg.net

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