The 870km pipeline project is intended to allow gas transportation to the Italian market via Georgia, Turkey, Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea.

By 2020, the pipeline is expected to transport gas from the Shah Deniz II field in Azerbaijan to the EU, diversifying the Europe’s energy supply sources while improving energy security.

Greece Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said: "The beginning of construction for the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, TAP, is taking place at a pivotal time for the Greek economy and our wider region.

"As for its geo-strategic aspect, this project can contribute to energy becoming a bridge of collaboration and prosperity for everyone in our region."

Designed to have an initial capacity of 10 billion cubic meters of gas per year, the TAP will also facilitate gas supply to several South Eastern European countries including Bulgaria, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia and others.

TAP managing director Ian Bradshaw said: "After winning the bid in 2013 and working diligently to prepare for this moment, we are delighted to have started constructing the pipeline – a strategic project for Europe transporting new sources of Caspian gas via a new route commencing in 2020 and for years to come."

The Southern Gas Corridor project aims to deliver 10bcm/a of new Caspian gas supplies to Europe starting from 2020.

The pipeline project partners include BP, SOCAR and Snam each holding 20% stake while other partners include Fluxys with 19% interest, Enagás 16% and Axpo 5%.

Image: Trans Adriatic Pipeline managing director Ian Bradshaw during the project inauguration ceremony in Greece. Photo: courtesy of Trans Adriatic Pipeline.