Europe’s Southern Gas Corridor: The Italian (Dis)connection

10/10/2018

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John M. Roberts | Atlantic Council

Introduction: “There is no Plan B”

The next few months will likely prove crucial for the completion of the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC), Europe’s biggest integrated energy project. The project is already delivering Azerbaijani gas to Turkey and in 2020 it is scheduled to start supplying Italy and European customers beyond Italy. Although more than three-quarters of the project has been completed, there is still a question concerning a crucial element: landfall in Italy.Vehement local opposition to a landing at San Foca, located on Italy’s heel, threatens the completion of the Corridor’s last major component, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). The problem is that there are no good alternatives to San Foca. Those that might exist are examined in this paper, but each of them raises complex questions that cannot be solved quickly. Officially there is optimism that all will be well. Public statements stress that the project will be completed, and even assert that it will be completed on time. During a discussion on the Southern Gas Corridor held by the Atlantic Council on September 11, 2018, representatives from BP and the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR)—the two companies involved in the entire value chain of SGC projects—made some extremely forthright comments. “Progress is being made and I am very confident that we will land this pipeline in Italy,” said Emily Olson, BP’s vice president, Communications and External Affairs, Southern Corridor. “We’ll get this done, and it will be done well and on time,” Olson added.
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