On February 2, during the annual meeting between civil society and the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) Board of Directors, the EIB revealed that the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) was among its priority projects for 2015 in the Balkans.[*]
The Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, planned to stretch from Greece via Albania and the Adriatic Sea to Italy, is part of the Southern Gas Corridor, a chain of projects meant to bring natural gas to Europe from the Shah Deniz offshore gas field in Azerbaijan.
The statement comes at a time when public criticism of the Southern Gas Corridor and its individual investment projects is increasingly showing the plans’ flaws. These range from creating an unnecessary and expensive surplus of gas import infrastructure, to propping up an undemocratic regime, to the irony of financing the Russian company Lukoil in order to reduce dependence on Russian gas. The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) itself is also facing heavy opposition in Italy.
In addition to the EIB’s support, the Southern Gas Corridor is set to be backed with public money via the Connecting Europe Facility, the Project Bonds Initiative, and indirectly via a loan by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to Lukoil for the second phase of developments at Shah Deniz, a loan set to be approved in early 2015. It is one of the most important projects on the EU list of Projects of Common Interest which are to receive political and financial backing in the following period.
* Other discussion points on the meeting’s agenda were the EIB’s climate and transparency policies.