TAP will be able to proceed with the replanting of the olive trees along the route in Italy, starting from the micro tunneling area, from November 2016, Lisa Givert, TAP Head of Communications, told Trend Oct.17.
She was commenting on protests in Italy’s Puglia region demanding the pipeline re-routed away from the prized grove, which includes olive trees thought to be more than 400 years old. Givert pointed out that TAP has been continuously engaging with a wide range of stakeholders and communities in Italy – including the Puglia region – since the early project planning phase.
Several rounds of discussions have been held to listen to local concerns and provide clarification about the project’s environmental footprint, including concrete measures for mitigating or minimizing any environmental impact, she added. TAP is a part of the Southern Gas Corridor which is one of the priority energy projects for the EU. TAP project envisages transportation of gas from the Stage 2 of development of Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz gas and condensate field to the EU countries.
The 870-kilometer pipeline will be connected to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) on the Turkish-Greek border, run through Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea, before coming ashore in Italy’s south.
“One of the priorities of our communication activities in Puglia has been and remains to reinforce that the project has a minimal environmental impact, especially to people living in the area affected by TAP,” she said. “We have organized multiple campaigns to dispel any inaccuracies, falsehoods and concerns.”
At the same time, she said, by using the example of other Italian regions and the beach resort island of Ibiza – where pipeline landfalls have been perfectly integrated into the environment – we have shown that infrastructure projects and tourist resorts can fully coexist, she added. Givert noted that most recently, TAP’s geological surveys on the San Foca beach have been conducted in record time (1.5 days versus the anticipated one week) and without any visible trace on the beach.
“It is worth adding that operations were conducted smoothly, thanks to the good cooperation with local authorities and the high-technical quality of our contractors’ services,” she said. “TAP will continue to engage in line with the highest industry standards.”
TAP will also continue to inform and engage with local and regional stakeholders about the project, provide accurate information and clarify any queries they may have, she added. She pointed out that TAP remains on schedule and will be ready to receive first gas from Shah Deniz 2 in 2020.
“In Italy, construction activities began in May 2016 and continue in line with the project schedule. UXO (unexploded ordnance) and archaeological surveys were carried out over the summer of 2016, phytosanitary treatment (spraying of olive trees along TAP’s route, in preparation of removing / replanting of olive trees) was performed and geological surveys were conducted on the San Foca beach between 3 and 5 October,” said Givert.
In parallel, and in line with the single authorization granted by Italy’s Ministry of Economy on May 20, 2015, TAP continues to progress its secondary permitting activities, she added.
“We remain confident that TAP will be able to proceed with the replanting of the olive trees along the route, starting from the micro tunneling area, from November 2016,” she said.
Givert said that TAP is committed to responsibly deliver a world-class project along its entire length in Italy, Albania and Greece.
“TAP’s landfall in San Foca was selected as the most optimum location for the TAP pipeline to enter Italy. It is the location with the least environmental impact – also during the construction phase,” she said. “This was confirmed and validated by the National Technical committee when they approved TAP’s Environmental Impact Assessment in September 2014.”
She said that as part of this process, TAP analyzed 20 landfall points along the Apulian coastline and concluded that San Foca was the landfall with the least environmental impact.