By Magda Panaotsopoulou
ATHENS (AA) - Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has inaugurated the start of construction of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) Tuesday in the northern port city of Thessaloniki.
The TAP project aims to connect to Trans Anatolian Natural gas Pipeline (TANAP) at the Greece-Turkey border and cross northern Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea before going onshore in southern Italy, where it will link up with the Snam-operated Italian natural gas network.
TAP will be 882 kilometers (548 miles) long with an initial capacity of 10 billion cubic meters per year to transfer Azerbaijan's natural gas through interconnections with other pipelines to Europe from the Turkish border.
The project is expected to create 8,000 jobs in Greece.
“Greece is entering a new era that leaves instability and uncertainty permanently behind,” said Tsipras during the ceremony.
The Greek premier noted that the inauguration of the start of construction coincided with strong signs that positive growth will resume in the second half of 2016 - indicators of a passage to a new era.
The ceremony was also attended by European Commission Vice President and Commissioner for Energy Union ,Maros Sefcovic, and delegations from other countries involved in the project, such as Turkey, Albania and Italy, Bulgaria and officials from the U.S. State Department.
In a speech, Turkish Energy Minister Berat Albayrak said that TAP, along with TANAP, will bring more competition on gas in the region, which will result in an efficient and reliable market.
Earlier today, Economy Minister George Stathakis in an interview with the Athens Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA) said that “the construction of the pipeline creates an important energy hub in northern Greece”. The pipeline is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.
TAP’s shareholding is comprised of BP (20 percent), SOCAR -The State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (20 percent), Snam S.p.A. (20 percent), Fluxys (19 percent), Enagás (16 percent) and Axpo (5 percent).