Trees to go, but Russia just a tap away

Trees to go, but Russia just a tap away

Despite delays in Italy’s Puglia region caused by more than 200 ancient olive trees, decision makers have confirmed that the

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Despite delays in Italy’s Puglia region caused by more than 200 ancient olive trees, decision makers have confirmed that the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) will be fully operational by 2020.

Once completed, the line will pipe gas from oil fields in the Caspian Sea to the European Union. TAP is one pillar of the Southern Gas Corridor – an integral part of the EU’s strategy to diversify the origin of its gas imports and thereby reduce its reliance on Russia.

Moscow currently provides around 30% of the EU’s gas; in certain Central and Eastern European countries it is the sole supplier. Moscow hasn’t been shy about using its position of strength to ensure its interests are taken into account.

While Italy’s interior minister says work to move the historic trees will begin on Monday, another problem looms: the Kremlin wants to use the pipeline too. Russia is currently building a separate pipeline – the Turkstream – that will intersect TAP at the Turkish-Greek border. If granted access, this would render the EU’s diversification strategy futile.