Albania Wants the World's Gas
The benefits of Albania from Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project, which will be implemented by the Swiss company “EGL”, are so considerable that this has caused even the jealousy of neighborin
By Anduela Nika
Albania will help to transport gas to Europe. It will transport Caspian gas to the EU countries. At least, once the European community needs our help. In fact, Albania has done nothing to have such attention. We are simply in a favorite strategic position. The fourth gas-pipeline corridor, which will supply Europe, will pass across Albania.
And this is sufficient for other states such as Croatia or Bosnia/Hercegovina to see us with so much sympathy that the deputy Minister of Economy, Trade and Energy, Neritan Alibali remained speechless when he, in the meeting he had in Croatia some times ago about the new gas pipeline, got high reviews for Albania by his counterparts. Countries have started to love Albania because it will supply them with gas. But we will also get gas. The benefits of Albania from Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project, which will be implemented by the Swiss company “EGL”, are so considerable that this has caused even the jealousy of neighboring Greece which has presented its own project which completely sidelines Albania.
TAP will take gas from Caspian Sea and pass it along Turkey, Greece, Albania and Italy where some thermal power stations will be built up.
Another gas pipeline will pass across Albania. It is Ionian Adriatic Pipeline (IAP) which will supply Montenegro, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Croatia with the Caspian gas. If the Greek project is endorsed which insignificantly pass across Albania, then the latter, alongside with our Croat and Montenegrin neighbors, automatically bid farewell to IAP project.
“Rather than a fight for gas, this is a political fight,” Neritan Alibali, deputy Minister of Economy told weekly magazine “Klan”. Furthermore the World Bank seems on our side.
In a recent meeting with Minister of Economy, Trade and Energy, Genc Ruli, the World Bank representatives were expressed enthusiastic and they have supported the IAP project, initiated by the Albanian side. This way, the World Bank has confirmed its position in favor of the Swiss TAP.
“The Greek project makes Albania part of one pipe only. We are supplied with gas but we can not supply the others. This way, we should put IAP project in practice which has a great importance to us from the economic and political point of view,” Alibali said.
Meanwhile, the Albanian side has intensified the relations with Turkey from where the gas pipeline will continue. The same is doing even the Greek side. The Greek Premier, Costas Karamanlis will visit Turkey this month in order he can present in the moment of the inauguration of Turkey-Greece gas project and realize his necessary lobbings.
The two projects aim at supplying Europe with gas and they both end up in Italy. The Greek gas pipeline will be 800 km long. Of it, 600 km will be constructed in Greece and 200 or 300 other kilometers along the Ionian shores.
On the other hand, the TAP project, which includes Albania, is 570 km long and only 90 km will be in open sea from Vlora, southern Albania to Lecce, Italy. The Greek project is foreseen to commence in mid-2008 and will be operational in 2011. The TAP one will start in 2008 to be operational in 2010, i.e. one year before the Greek project while the TAP capacity (in its first stage) is expected to be 10bn cubic meters while it will be doubled in its second stage (20bn cubic meters) against the 11.5bn cubic meters of the Greek project. The total cost of the Greek project will be Euro950m and of that, Euro600m will go for the Greek section. Whereas the foreseen cost by TAP will be Euro500m-Euro700m. In this project, Albania does not pay a penny. It simply pays a tax for the gas transport. Also, the possibility is created to Albania to start another pipeline (IAP) from the main TAP.
The international media has long “smelt” the new European fight for gas. In an article of Associated Press, Christos Dimas, general manager of Thrace/HELPE Consortium, said that this is no longer an economic issue but geo-political one. The competition from the Greek side is keen and more than anybody else, Albania is afraid of that. But the involvement of some neighboring countries in this project seems to put Albania in a favorite position. This project has been approved by the European community as a priority project and has a support from the Swiss government which is also in a process of lobbing. Because after all, everyone wants to benefit.
Albania surely is the first on the list. By being part of this project, Albania thinks to resolve many problems at the same time. This way, we do not only become a bridge for Europe but also resolve our problems. Experts say that the energy crisis may come to an end only after the construction of the gas pipeline. “The construction of new hydro-power stations, which will operate with gas, will undoubtedly be a solution to the crisis,” deputy Minister Alibali said.
In a meeting in Croatia, after the signing of the agreement on IAP, a number of assumptions have been put forth on the transformation of Albania in a gas-storing area. According to Alibali, Albania is a country with considerable gas-storing capacities. “The gas can be stored in summer and sold at a higher price in winter when fairly enough, the demands are higher,” Alibali said.
On the other hand, this will resolve the problems of the country for gas.
Premier Sali Berisha has been declared lately that Albania’s favorite geographical position should be exploited to the maximum and that he and his government are doing their best to make a good use of IAP gas pipeline. The Swiss company, “EGL” has started to sign the agreements with all the countries across which the gas pipeline will pass. In face of the game of raising the prices by Russia, Europe is trying to find new ways to provide gas which are from Iran and Caspian Sea. The two projects, the Greek and the Swiss ones are the two main ones which are harshly competing with one another. This time, the issue goes beyond the economic borders, thus being turned into a geo-political matter. Because this is the gas war.
10 november 2007
Published in “Albanian Daily News”
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