The 878km pipeline, which will start at the Greek/Turkish border, will cross Northern Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea prior to coming ashore in Southern Italy to connect to the Italian natural gas network.

Planned to be connected with the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) at the Greek-Turkish border, the pipeline is designed to have an initial annual capacity of 10 billion cubic meters and is scheduled to be commissioned by 2020.

Expected to significantly contribute to the diversification of Europe’s energy supply, the pipeline project has already received €1.5bn loan from the European Investment Bank earlier this year.

EBRD said in a statement: “At the start point in Turkey TAP will connect to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) for which the EBRD approved a €500 million loan last October.”

The TAP project, which is part of the $40bn Southern Gas Corridor, is intended to transport natural gas from the giant Shah Deniz II field in Azerbaijan to several South Eastern European countries, including Bulgaria, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia and others.

The Southern Gas Corridor is gas value chain aimed at improving the security and diversity of the EU’s energy supply by bringing natural gas from the Caspian region to Europe.

EBRD further said: “TAP has been designed in accordance with good international practices, encompassing route selection, completion of environmental and social impact assessments, the implementation of robust contractor management controls and ongoing engagement and dialogue with the local population.

“This includes national environmental requirements, relevant EU legislation and EBRD performance requirements under its Environmental and Social Policy.”

The bank said it plans to monitor the project during construction and operations phases to ensure its compliance with the required commitments.

The TAP project is owned by BP with 20% stake, SOCAR with 20% interest, Snam with 20% share, Fluxys with 19% interest, Enagás with 16% share and Axpo with 5% stake.