Trans Adriatic Pipeline
Trans Adriatic Pipeline - eNEWS
Issue 3 | Oct. 2010
Trans Adriatic Pipeline

Welcome to the TAP newsletter!

E-News is the electronic newsletter of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project.Published quarterly, it provides a rundown of TAP’s progress as well as relevant wider industry news. Each edition also includes a "thought piece", analysing recent events or issues surrounding the Southern Gas Corridor.

About the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project

Measuring 520km in total, the TAP pipeline will transport natural gas from the Caspian Sea and Middle East regions to Europe. The pipeline will originate in Greece near Thessaloniki, cross Albania and the Adriatic Sea, and enter Italy near Brindisi. In Greece and Italy TAP will tie into the existing national gas systems. TAP is a joint venture between the Swiss EGL Group, Norway's Statoil and Germany's E.ON Ruhrgas.


TAP news round-up: Project developments >>
Quarterly "thought piece": The importance of being responsible >>
Introducing the TAP team: Christian Falck, Technical Offshore Director >>

TAP news round-up: Important project developments

TAP will open up Southern Gas Corridor, Tungland tells industry and government leaders >>
TAP and its shareholders (EGL, Statoil and E.ON) are dedicated to finding the most cost effective transportation solution, tailor-made to fit the needs of the second phase of the Shah Deniz project, TAP Managing Director Kjetil Tungland told a prestigious energy forum in Istanbul this September.

Routing optimization: concluded in Albania, ongoing in Italy and Greece >>
TAP continues to build relations with local communities as part of its commitment to stakeholder engagement.

TAP participates in the Gas Infrastructure World Caspian 2010 >>
Kjetil Tungland, Managing Director of TAP, presented highlights of the project at the Gas Infrastructure World Caspian forum in Baku, Azerbaijan.

TAP's management structure >>
The project's management team has been revised after E.ON Ruhrgas joined TAP as a new shareholder in May.

TAP reconfirms Shah Deniz II as the initial gas source for the pipeline >>
Shareholders of the TAP project have confirmed that the Shah Deniz II natural gas field in Azerbaijan is the intended source for the pipeline.

Trans Adriatic Pipeline is now on Twitter >>
Latest project developments, Southern Gas Corridor news, reminders of upcoming events, speeches and industry comment will all be available on the TAP Twitter feed, @tap_pipeline.

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Quarterly "thought piece": The importance of being responsible
by Dr. Kai Schmidt-Soltau 

Following the highest international standards is not just a business decision for TAP – it’s a core value

The role and behaviour of ‘corporate citizens’ has become a popular topic for commentators. Some applaud the growth in social, environmental and cultural initiatives by businesses as a positive contribution to society. Others dismiss such actions as superficial style over substance. So, can business really be a force for good?

As long ago as 380 BC, the Greek philosopher Isocrates counselled that one should not "do to others what would anger you if done to you by others”. This ‘ethics of reciprocity’ is deeply rooted in all cultures, applicable to both personal and group behaviour. Today, cynics might argue that its implementation in modern everyday life is rare. But industry leaders are increasingly realising that behaving responsibly is not only the right thing to do – it’s also good for the bottom line.

Individual and group endeavours have always affected the environments, livelihoods and cultures of others. Recognising this, societies establish laws, regulations and standards to strike a balance between the actions of some and the rights of others. In 13th century England, for example, the Magna Carta established that expropriations are only lawful when immediate and adequate compensation is provided, and that public access to private assets can only be legal when government is able to obtain consent from the owners. While these and similar principles have become widespread, their specific implementation varies from culture to culture and country to country.

This is important for the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), a multinational company owned by three major corporations from Norway, Germany and Switzerland. Operated by staff from more than 30 countries, its activities cover Greece, Albania and Italy. While such diversity is a great strength, it also raises the question “to which standards should TAP comply?”

During and after: TAP commits to reinstating areas used during construction.
Picture provided by E.ON Ruhrgas

At first, it may appear logical to use national standards as a benchmark for addressing the impact within each country. Equally however, it would not be unreasonable to question why impacts caused by the same pipeline should be addressed differently a short distance away, depending on which side of a border they occur. Costs for land and assets may vary according to location, but can a greater exposure to risk be justified in one country because its national standards are lower? While different standards might be legally justifiable, recent events such as the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have shown that the public is no longer willing to absorb costs generated by shortcomings in national legislation, if higher standards are commonly applied elsewhere.

For their part, multinational corporations find it increasingly difficult to convince shareholders, authorities and the public that a solution used in one country can be ignored in another just because it is not required by law and/or national legislation. Best practice is seen to be best practice wherever that may be. This recent shift in attitudes reinforces the call to act responsibly in a globalised world and reaffirms TAP’s decision to use the highest international standards – the 10 Performance Requirements of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) – as a key benchmark for its Environmental and Social Impact Assessment process (ESIA – see box below).

TAP and its shareholders reached this decision back in 2008 and have put their commitment into action ever since. One example is the large-scale route-refinement process in Italy, Albania and Greece. This involved the deployment of over 60 national and international experts to conduct a detailed assessment of alternative routes, engaging with more than 2,000 stakeholders during the past 15 months.

Dr. Kai Schmidt-Soltau with TAP team in Albania
Picture: Bevis Fusha for TAP

Such a huge effort has had important results. TAP’s original plans would have included crossing a national park in Albania and Natura 2000 sites in Italy.  The revised routing, recently endorsed by national and local stakeholders, avoids all protected areas, cultural heritage sites and zones earmarked for development. The result will be significantly fewer adverse social and environmental impacts in affected areas. TAP hopes that as a consequence, the pipeline will have increased public support in the countries through which it will transit, facilitating the planning process and ultimately giving the project an invaluable ‘licence to operate’. Engagement with communities and individuals in the pipeline corridor has also established mutual respect and stimulated an ongoing and open dialogue which will provide the foundation for a long and prosperous partnership between TAP and its neighbouring communities.

Sceptics may argue that an upfront-investment in comprehensive studies as part of a commitment to implementing international best practices undermines the economic feasibility of the project. But TAP believes that such views are short-sighted and outdated. In the final analysis, the economic benefits of acting in a responsible manner – including those already discussed – far exceed its costs and may even reduce the initial investment. In addition, the time and expense of acquiring land and easement through negotiations with landowners and resource users – rather than seeking compulsory expropriations – protect TAP against non-technical risks (such as local resistance and multiple lawsuits) as well as an unquantifiable economic exposure from unexpected delays and other events. Importantly it also ensures that neighbouring communities will respect and protect the integrity of the pipeline. Last but by no means least, the chosen route is the shortest and easiest to build. Behaving in a responsible manner is already producing clear business benefits for TAP.

                                                  Dr. Kai Schmidt-Soltau, Manager ESIA, CSR & SEI

The Environmental Social Impact Assesment (ESIA) is commonly used as vehicle to assure compliance with relevant standards on (i) Environmental and Social Management; (ii) Labour and Working Conditions; (iii) Pollution Prevention and Abatement; (iv) Community Health, Safety and Security; (v) Land Acquisition, Involuntary Resettlement and Economic Displacement; (vi) Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Natural Resource Management; (vii) Indigenous Peoples; (viii) Cultural Heritage; (ix) Financial Intermediaries and (x) Information Disclosure and Stakeholder Engagement. TAP has selected the 10 Performance Requirements of the EBRD as they combine highest international standards and conventions with relevant EU guidelines and directives.


Dr. Kai Schmidt-Soltau is responsible for the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment and Corporate Social Responsibility processes in TAP. He is also in charge of socio-economic issues including land acquisition and land easement, community investments and local content development. After obtaining his PhD in Sociology from Münster, Germany in 1996 he spent ten years in Cameroon and two years in Manila, the Philippines. During that time he worked in more than 70 countries for the United Nations, World Bank and other multilateral development banks as well as for the private sector. His main task in these roles has been to ensure that investments and policy reforms comply with the highest social and environmental standards.

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Introducing the TAP team: Christian Falck, Technical Offshore Director

The Trans Adriatic Pipeline project employs over 50 oil and gas professionals from 18 different nationalities. With this issue of E-News, we will start introducing different members of the TAP team to show the diverse backgrounds and expertise they bring to the project. Here we feature Christian Falck, TAP's Technical Director responsible for the development of the offshore phase of the pipeline.  


Christian Falck

Job Title:
Technical Offshore Director


Statoil, seconded to TAP project

Since joining Statoil 20 years ago, Christian Falck has been involved in the development of most of the major offshore pipeline projects in the North Sea. On various global assignments, he has also worked for Statoil’s pipeline projects in Vietnam, Middle East and even the Arctic.

“Many of these pipelines became record breakers in one way or another. For example, Zeepipe, which transported natural gas from the North Sea to Zeebrugge in Belgium, was at the time of construction the longest and the largest offshore pipeline in the world. Nam Con Son offshore-to-onshore pipeline in Vietnam set the record as the longest multiphase-pipe transporting oil and gas together. And now the TAP pipeline will be the world's largest in diameter at a water depth of 800 meters in its offshore section.”

Christian has traveled the world for Statoil, developing ground breaking projects in diverse environments and climates. “As a pipeline engineer you are often outside in the field or on a platform in the sea, supervising the pipe laying process. Most of the time, the weather is not hospitable. You can feel pretty miserable if you are working in icy Arctic winds, a 50°C desert, or in pouring monsoon rain in Vietnam.”

Despite these technical challenges, all of the projects Christian was involved in were successfully completed. “I am so used to hearing people say that this or that pipeline cannot be built for whatever reason, but we have always proved them wrong.”

Christian believes that TAP has all the ingredients to be a success. “We have managed to identify the shortest possible route in the Southern Gas Corridor and the most favorable offshore crossing in the Adriatic Sea. On top of this, TAP’s shareholders bring the world’s best technical expertise to the project. We have a great team working on its implementation.”

In fact, Christian was among the first employees to join the TAP team in 2007, after Statoil sent him to work for the newly established joint venture in Switzerland, to develop the natural gas pipeline project. ”When I arrived almost nothing was in place, the project basically consisted of only two people. We did not have our own office or support staff. We had to manage everything ourselves.”

The challenge of building-up a new team from scratch proved irresistible for Christian. Three years later he is proud of the company and the project he helped create. 50 oil and gas specialists work in TAP’s main headquarters in Baar, Switzerland and in the branch offices in Tirana, Athens and Rome. Many of them have moved with their families, to work on TAP as a long term assignment.

“It’s great to be able to work on a pipeline project from Switzerland.  I also enjoy skiing in winter, playing tennis in summer, and the time in the great outdoors generally,” says Christian. However, he’s also looking forward to the hard work of time in the field, once the planning and detail engineering phase of the project is completed. “It hasn’t been always easy. To a big extent our success depends on wider political and external factors, which we often are not able to influence. That said, thanks to the constantly changing environment, the project is never boring!”

According to Falck, his technical team’s biggest achievement so far has been selecting the new route in Albania, where TAP will have its longest section, almost 200 kilometers in total. ”We revised the initial routing and managed to circumvent the National Hotova Park, natural reserve area in Albania. As a result, the pipeline will be even shorter and will have less impact on the local environment and communities.”

As with any other project, the most rewarding aspect of Christian’s job is the final result. “After years of planning, design and construction you finally see the pipeline in place and the gas flowing. That’s the biggest moment.”

TAP Shareholders are the world’s specialists in pipeline laying

Onshore: E.ON Ruhrgas owns more than 11,600 km of gas pipelines. 

E.ON Ruhrgas will build the Albanian and Greek onshore section of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline.

Picture provided by E.ON Ruhrgas.

Offshore: Statoil is the world’s largest deepwater operator with more than 8,000 km of subsea pipelines.

Statoil will build the offshore part and the onshore Italian section of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline. 

Picture provided by Statoil.

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Trans Adriatic Pipeline
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