The TAP project will analyse five potential routes, which have been identified based on satellite images, maps and other research already undertaken. The goal of the TAP project team is to investigate and assess these alternatives in detail and identify any obstacles or challenging areas. The main priority for the pipeline routing is to avoid crossing the core of the National Hotova park, a protected natural reserve area in the region of Permet.
The TAP route survey will include detailed technical, environmental, social and cultural heritage impact assessments which form part of the Front End Engineering & Design process of the TAP project. This needs to be completed in each country the pipeline crosses, before construction can begin.
The site visits will be carried out by a group of 40 specialists, including international consultants from ILF (who will cover engineering issues), ERM (who cover the social and environmental issues) and Albanian consultants on the ground.
TAP is working closely with the Ministry of Environment of Albania on the route selection process to ensure that it complies with the national laws and regional regulations.
The technical part of the survey in Albania will assess any construction challenges and identify potential landslide areas. Other assessments will involve meetings with national and local authorities, heads of villages and local residents, as well as organizing focus groups in selected villages. In total the team will visit 3 regions and engage with 14 communities in 40 villages.
“Our intention is to start a good dialogue with the population, inform them about the TAP pipeline and listen to their concerns.” – says Dr. Kai Schmidt Soltau, TAP’s CSR & Environmental & Social Impact Assessment Manager, coordinating the survey. “The selection of the pipeline route will be a very transparent process in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders, local authorities and the Albanian Ministry of Environment.”
The route assessment survey in Albania is expected to take three weeks, with some detailed follow-up studies to be carried out in August. The survey findings and proposal for the most optimal route will be presented to the Albanian government in December 2009. Following the approval of the routing by the authorities, the TAP project will begin the scoping work for detailed Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIA) for the Albanian section of the gas pipeline route.