February 23, 2017Reporting by Nailia Bagirova; Writing by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Joseph Radford
BAKU (Reuters) - Italy sees no problems with the construction of its section of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), the country's economic development minister said on Thursday.
More than 200 olive trees in southern Italy stand in the way of a $45 billion pipeline designed to bring gas from ex-Soviet Azerbaijan and help wean the European Union off its dependence on Russian energy.
Local authorities want the pipeline re-routed away from the prized grove, which includes trees thought to be more than 400 years old. That may delay a project that is meant within three years to carry the equivalent of 10 percent of Europe's Russian energy imports.
However, Carlo Calenda said moving olive trees that are blocking the pipeline's path would start on Monday.
"There are no problems with the construction of the Italian section of the TAP pipeline," Carlo Calenda told reporters in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.
Developers have Rome's approval to proceed, on condition the trees are transplanted while pipes are laid and buried, while the pipeline consortium, which includes Britain's BP (BP.L), Azeri state energy company SOCAR and Italian gas company Snam (SRG.MI), has hired 24-hour security.