Skip to main content

Construction of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline

Guided by the Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIAs) in each host country, TAP’s route has been selected to respect environmental, social and culturally sensitive areas wherever possible.

The Trans Adriatic Pipeline is now in its construction phase. Front End Engineering Design (FEED) for TAP was completed in March 2013 and the major procurement contracts – including the construction of onshore and offshore pipeline, compressor stations and pipeline receiving terminal, as well as the supply of steel pipes, control systems and large diameter pipeline valves – have been awarded.

Work commenced in the summer of 2015 with the construction and rehabilitation of roads and bridges in Albania to access future pipeline construction sites. 

The construction of the TAP pipeline, and its related facilities, will take place in stages / phases and will be influenced by weather conditions and in some cases, seasonal restrictions. The actual intense construction along the pipeline Right-of-Way (ROW) will typically be sequenced to take place over a period of 3 to 6 months. However, overall access to land will be required for a longer period, to allow for continuing ROW access for transportation and other peripheral construction activities and in total, could last between 12 and 24 months, inclusive of the intense construction periods. All land used will be reinstated to at least, its original condition. TAP will pay compensation for the total amount of disturbance time (that is, for the actual disturbance time or for 24 months, whichever is greater), when the land is being used.

Once built, the onshore pipeline itself will be buried at least one metre beneath the ground and therefore not visible for the entire route. Only facilities such as the pipeline receiving terminal, compressor and block valve stations will be above ground and they will be designed, constructed and screened to have minimum environmental impact.

The project aims to comply with the benchmark performance requirements of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).The TAP project team also engages in transparent and open dialogue with all its stakeholders during all stages of the project development.

Disclaimer: TAP pipeline fly-over animation used in this film is only a symbolic illustration of the proposed pipeline route and its associated infrastructure. The actual pipeline routing is not yet final and will be further refined.

Onshore pipeline construction

The onshore section of TAP will be approximately 773 kilometres in total (Greece 550 km; Albania 215 km; Italy 8 km).

The onshore part of the pipeline will have a diameter of 48 inches (1.2 metres), while the diameter of the offshore segment will be 36 inches (0.91 metres). The thickness of the steel pipe wall will be 17.5 to 31 mm (there are four different classes of pipe).

Onshore pipeline dimensions in Greece and Albania

Onshore pipe-laying work will be undertaken in ‘spreads’ at several locations across the entire pipeline route, rather than starting at one end and working towards the other.

There will be approximately 15 camp sites along the entire route, with 150 to 200 staff at each site.

The actual construction activity at each construction ‘spread’ is estimated to last approximately three months. Additional time will be needed for reinstatement.

First, a trench approximately 2.5 metres deep is excavated. The width of the construction corridor will depend on the terrain.

Pipes will be welded together into ‘strings’, which are then lowered into the trench, the soil filled back and the landscape reinstated while the construction ‘spread’ moves forward.

Techniques such as horizontal directional drilling will be used for crossing roads and rivers, and special care will be taken to minimise any adverse effect on the environment during construction.

After construction, the pipeline will be buried at least one metre under the ground and will therefore be invisible.

At its highest point, in Potom in the Albanian mountains, the pipeline will reach 1,800 metres above sea level. It will cross nine mountain peaks more than 500 metres high, while its steepest slope will be on a gradient of 40 degrees.

Compressor stations and other above-the-ground facilities

The above-ground facilities will include two compressor stations, block valve stations and the pipeline receiving terminal in Italy.

Two compressor stations, one near Kipoi, in Greece, and the other on the Albanian coast near Fier, will be used to ensure gas transportation through the pipeline. For upgrading to 20 bcm in the future, it would be necessary to construct two new compressor stations at Bilisht, Albania and Serres, Greece.

Block valve stations will be placed 30 km apart on the pipeline for blocking gas flow during routine maintenance or in an emergency.

Offshore pipeline and landfall construction

TAP will traverse the Adriatic Sea at the shortest crossing, between Fier in Albania and Italy’s southern Puglia region, a distance of just 105 km. This choice of route also took into consideration strict environmental protection requirements and the specific nature of the Adriatic seabed.

Laying the pipes at depths of more than 800 metres will allow the use of specialist S-type lay barges, a state-of-the-art technology employed widely in pipeline construction. The barge will move forward as the pipe string is laid to its rear in the water, following a distinctive S-shaped curvature to the seabed.

Pipes 12 metres long will be welded to the pipeline string on the deck of the barge. The steel outer pipe will have a diameter of 36 inches and a thickness of 20 to 34 mm, depending on the depth of water. At depths of less than 300 metres, the pipe will be coated with concrete for protection from potential damage.

The deepest point of the pipeline below sea level will be 820 metres in the strait of Ontranto in the Adriatic Sea.

Construction phases

TAP’s schedule is in alignment with upstream developments, which means that exact timings will depend on the progress of the Shah Deniz Stage 2 development in the Caspian Sea.

Implementation of the project will include the following activities over the next years:

- Complete Detailed Engineering
- Access roads and bridges in Albania
- Pipeline laying onshore and offshore
- Facilities construction

Special equipment will be used at the landfalls in Italy and Albania to ensure that the pipe is brought ashore with the minimum adverse effect to the local environment and showing respect for the coastal area. For example, in Italy the landfall will be constructed using micro-tunnelling technology.

For more details on construction of country specific pipeline sections and infrastructure, please visit our country sub-pages.

Please note that all figures mentioned in the text are estimates and can change as the project develops.