The milestone was celebrated in a ceremony attended by Edi Rama, the Prime Minister of Albania, Damian Gjiknuri, the Minister of Infrastructure and Energy, Armando Subashi, the Mayor of Fier, as well as TAP’s Management. Participants also included representatives of local authorities, diplomatic corps and other key stakeholders.
Prime Minister Rama and TAP Managing Director Schieppati drew the offshore section of the pipeline on a map, symbolising the soon to be completed section of the project for Albania.
Prime Minister Rama and Minister Gjiknuri both welcomed the project’s good progress, the benefits it brings to local communities and underlined the strong partnership between TAP and Albania. They also emphasised TAP’s strategic importance.
TAP Managing Director Luca Schieppati said: “This is another key milestone taking one more step towards completion of the TAP project and the start of operations in 2020. Being one of the most strategic and mature infrastructure projects currently implemented in Europe, TAP will bring a new source of gas to homes and business and boost security of energy supply in the region. Overall, our project is more than 80% complete and we are proud that works are being undertaken in line with the highest standards and industry best practice.”
TAP Project Director John Haynes added: “This is the first time for engineering works of such a scale and magnitude to be carried out in Albania. Steel pipes will be welded together on board state-of-the-art vessels, which will be located at sea. These welds are then tested, and the pipeline is lowered down onto the seabed, reaching depths of more than 810m beneath sea level. Approximately 9,000 pipes with a 36-inch diameter will be used, weighing approximately 100,000 tonnes in total.”
TAP’s Country Manager Albania Malfor Nuri thanked the Albanian government for their support: “In our journey we have created strong and long-term relations with the communities along TAP’s route in Albania. These are based on transparency and trust and we are very proud of our investments in social and environmental projects that aim to improve the quality of life of local communities. Not only is TAP one of the largest foreign direct investments in Albania; it is one of the most important energy projects for the country, amounting to about €1.5 billion.”
Saipem is TAP’s contractor in charge of the engineering, procurement, construction and installation of the offshore section of the project. Approximately 10 vessels will be used for the offshore construction: two vessels will lay pipes and specialized vessels will be used for dredging, supplying pipes, light construction, anchor handling, towing and survey activities. A semi-submersible pipe laying vessel will install pipes in deep waters and a shallow water lay barge will be used closer to the shore.