BAKU, August 11 (Itar-Tass) - Azerbaijan invites Italian companies to take a more active role in its economic development, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said on Sunday after his talks with visiting Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta.
“We would like to see more Italian companies both as investors and contractors,” he said. In his words, Italy is a key trade partner of his country, especially in the oil sector. At the same time, he spoke in favor of diversifying trade ties with Rome.
Touching energy cooperation between the two countries, the Azeri president said it opened a new page in the bilateral relations. “This cooperation will play an important part not only in our bilateral relations but also in relations between Azerbaijan and the European Union,” he noted. “Our projects will help ensure Europe’s energy security. Apart from that, they open new markets in the European Union for us.”
According to Aliyev, the choice of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline project as a route to supply Azerbaijan’s gas to Europe via Greece was a strategic decision. “This project was chosen in conditions of fair competition and it offers the best and most attractive conditions for investors,” he said.
The agreement on the construction of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline was signed by Greece, Albania, and Italy in Athens on February 13. The project provides for the transportation of natural gas from Azerbaijan’s Caspian shelf field Shah Deniz-2 to Europe via the Turkish gas transport network. The field’s reserves are estimated at 1.2 trillion cubic meters of gas. The pipeline will run 478 kilometers across Greece from Komotini in northeast, transverse Albania (209 kilometers) and cross the Adriatic Sea on its bottom (105 kilometers) to reach Italy’s southern city of Brindisi.
The construction of the pipeline may be started at the end of 2014 or at the beginning of 2015 and is to be over in 2018. Gas supplies via this pipeline are planned for the beginning of 2019. The pipeline’s initial capacity will be ten billion cubic meters a year and later it may be increased to twenty billion cubic meters when gas compressing stations are built in Greece and Albania.