City & Corporate: FD handed pipeline account

ENERGY: Trans Adriatic Pipeline seeks to explain importance of energy project.

A gas pipeline project intended to break Russia's grip on Europe's energy supplies has called in external PR to boost awareness of the initiative.

The EUR1.5bn (£1.25bn) Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) has handed a retained PR brief to FD's corporate comms energy practice as it seeks to explain the project to stakeholders across Europe.

FD will support TAP from its offices in London and Brussels. Sean Galvin, head of FD's corporate comms energy practice in London, will lead the account, reporting to Lisa Givert, TAP's head of comms, based in Switzerland.

The 520km pipeline will transport gas through Greece and Albania across the Adriatic Sea to Italy's southern Puglia region and into Western Europe. It is the shortest and most direct pipeline project planned in the Southern Gas Corridor, which links Europe to new gas supplies.

The project is supported by the EU, and the shareholders are Swiss energy trading firm EGL, Norway's Statoil and E.ON Ruhrgas of Germany.

FD worked with TAP when E.ON Ruhrgas was announced as an investor in May. The agency has been taken on in a retained capacity without a competitive pitch.

TAP's Lisa Givert commented: 'It is essential that TAP continues to communicate in a clear and consistent manner.'

FD will support TAP's attempts to inform stakeholders about the nature and progress of the project as well as the key issues of energy security and diversity in Europe. FD's Galvin said: 'We will help the media understand how the project, based on sound commercial principles, fits into the wider energy picture.'

The agency will work primarily with international and trade media in London and Brussels to target governments, politicians, industry peers, and the financial and investment communities.

Europe currently depends mostly on Russian gas supplies through several existing pipelines, and it has not yet linked its pipeline systems to substantial Caspian and Middle Eastern gas reserves.

The project will expand transportation capacity from 10 to 20bcm a year depending on throughput and should be operating by 2016/17.

TAP is one of a number of projects designed to link Western Europe to these gas reserves. Another such pipeline, Nabucco, handed a wide-ranging PR brief to Grayling in June.

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