ROME, June 6 (Reuters) - A plan to build the final stage of a $40 billion international gas pipeline in Italy is under review, the country’s new environment minister said, calling the project “pointless”.
Italy is at the end of the Southern Gas Corridor, a pipeline taking gas from central Asia to western Europe. It is a cornerstone of the European Union’s energy security policy which aims to wean the bloc off Russian gas supplies.
Environment Minister Sergio Costa, sworn in on Friday as part of a ruling coalition of anti-establishment parties, said Italy’s involvement in the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), the final stage of the 3,500-km (2,200-mile) corridor, would be reviewed along with some other major projects.
“TAP is on the table and we are looking at it as a priority ...,” said Costa, who was nominated as minister by the coalition’s biggest party, the pro-environment 5-Star Movement.
“Given (our) energy policy, given falling gas demand, that project today looks pointless,” he added in written responses to a series of questions put to him on Tuesday and Wednesday.
A review would likely create tensions between Italy and the developers of the 4.5 billion euro ($5.3 billion) TAP project, which include British oil group BP, Italy’s Snam and Spain’s Enagás.
It is unclear whether the minister’s comments will translate into action. Costa said any decision on TAP’s future would also involve other ministers.
The 5-Star also has more radical environmental policies than its coalition partner, the right-wing League. ($1 = 0.8498 euros) (Additional reporting by Gavin Jones and Crispian Balmer, Writing by Stephen Jewkes Editing by Mark Bendeich)