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E.On Ruhrgas takes stake in TAP

The German firm says the investment will strengthen its position as an energy supplier in Italy, where it is the fourth-largest power producer and third largest gas supplier

E.ON Ruhrgas has taken a stake in the €1.5bn ($1.9bn) Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) gas project.

The 520 km gas pipeline – with an initial capacity of 10bn cubic metres a year (cm/y), expandable to 20bn cm/y – will run from Thessaloniki, in Greece, to the Italian port of Brindisi, through Albania. It will deliver gas directly from the Caspian, Central Asia and the Middle East to Europe and should, says the EU, improve the continent's energy security by opening access to those regions through what it calls the Southern Corridor.

"TAP is the most promising project for moving natural gas to southern and central Europe," said Jochen Weise, E.On Ruhrgas's executive board member responsible for gas supply and trading.

And E.On adds another heavyweight partner to the project – on which a final investment decision is yet to be made – as well as an established base in the lucrative Italian gas market. Under the new shareholder structure, Swiss energy trader Elektrizitats-Gesellschaft Laufenburg will hold 42.5%, Norway's Statoil 42.5% and E.On Ruhrgas 15%. However, the TAP consortium says other partners are still able to join.

TAP is competing for Azerbaijani gas supplies with two other pipeline projects: the 3,300 km, 31bn cm/y Nabucco, and the 12bn cm/y Interconnector Turkey-Greece-Italy (ITGI) project. Statoil holds a 25.5% stake in Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz gas development, which, once its second phase starts up, will produce 16bn cm/y.

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