Croatia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro as well as the executives of Azerbaijan's SOCAR oil and gas company on Friday signed a Memorandum of Understanding on a project for the construction of the future Ionian-Adriatic gas pipeline (IAP) and the document-signing ceremony was held as part of the Dubrovnik Forum.
After the ceremony, Croatia's Economy Minister Tomislav Panenic said that the future pipeline would provide gas supplies for southeastern Europe.
"We have defined our joint initiative for the development of the Adriatic-Ionian gas pipeline as a route that will make sure that these markets are provided with gas. We hope that this route will be a connection between the north and the south and that this may pave the way for a full liberalisation of the gas supplies market in Europe," the Croatian minister said.
Montenegrin Economy Minister Vladimir Kavaric said that the signatories to the agreement were partners rather than competitors in the implementation of this important project.
In response to questions from the press, Bosnia and Herzegovina's Foreign Trade Minister Mirko Sarovic said that Sarajevo's basic demand was that an IAP section should go through Bosnia and Herzegovina, but he did not know whether the pipeline would pass through the Neum corridor, the only Adriatic coastal stretch of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
"Bosnia and Herzegovina supports this regional project and approach. We ask our partners to ensure that a section of the route goes through Bosnia and Herzegovina," Sarovic said, adding that he hopes that this section will run through the Neum corridor.
Albania's Deputy Minister of Energy and Industry Ilir Bejtja said that the Dubrovnik Forum had highlighted the importance of safety in gas provision. This project will stabilise gas deliveries as we will have diversified sources, he added.
In 2007, Croatia, Montenegro and Albania signed a declaration on the IAP, which is supposed to be connected to the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). The 870-kilometre-long TAP should transport gas from Shah Deniz II, Azerbaijan, via Greece and Albania and the Adriatic Sea, to Italy.
The length of the IAP gas pipeline from Split, Croatia to Fier, Albania is 516 kilometres, and the capacity of this pipeline is set at five billion cubic metres annually.
Croatia's investment in its IAP section is estimated at EUR 265 million.