A Lazio Region (Italy) court has temporarily blocked the removal of olive trees in the southern city of Melendugno that may host the first stretches of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).
TAP would supply natural gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz gas field to Italy and further into Europe. It would be fed by the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), which runs through Turkey into Greece.
The appeal to halt the removal of the olive trees was supported by the Italian Ministry of Ecology – the Lazio court will reexamine the issue on April 19, until which time works have been suspended.
The decision of the Lazio court was welcomed by the NO TAP movement – a local movement that opposes the project, claiming that the construction of the pipeline and its presence will be harmful to the environment.
Protests have been going on for several weeks and local activists have blocked roads leading to the construction site.
TAP administration said it will observe the court decision.
“TAP, waiting for the hearing of April 19th, will adhere respectfully to the provisions of the decree of the president of the TAR of Lazio which has temporarily blocked the work of removing olive trees in Melendugno”, reads the official statement as reported by the Italian newspaper
TAP holds strategic importance for Europe, as it intends to diversify Europe’s gas supply away from Russian dependence.
Once finished, the pipeline will be 878 kilometers in length. Starting near Kipoi on the border of Turkey and Greece, TAP will connect with the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP). From there it will cross Norther Greece, Albania, cross the Adriatic Sea and reach Southern Italy, where it will tie into Italy’s gas transportation network. Only 8 kilometers of the pipeline will be on Italian land.
The estimated capacity of the gas pipeline is 10 billion cubic meters per year, with the possibility of increasing the capacity to 20 billion cubic meters.
The project is economically very significant for Azerbaijan as it will allow Azerbaijani gas to reach European markets and bypass Russia.
Chief editor at
told Meydan TV in an interview that “TAP is very important for Azerbaijan for three reasons: first, it would allow Azerbaijan to sell gas to the West through long-term contracts; second, the money of the contracts would be divided between the members of the TAP consortium, registered in Switzerland; and third politically, it would be the success of the AZ-EU-US policy on the Southern Gas Corridor. If it falls through, which is unlikely, unless serious problems with EBRD and other financial partners arise, it would be a failure for Azerbaijan first and foremost politically and then economically. However, TANAP will be built and at least 6bmc are sold to Turkey. After that, it should not be a problem to find alternative routes, for example through Greece or Bulgaria”.