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Spain’s Enagas has joined the Trans Adriatic Pipeline consortium as Belgium’s Fluxys increased its stake as the two companies bought out France’s Total and Germany’s E.ON from the pipeline project

Enagas, which operates Spain’s natural gas grid as well as three liquefied natural gas terminals, is acquiring a 16% share in the pipeline to take Caspian gas to European markets.

Belgian gas transmission operator Fluxys is increasing its stake by three percentage points to 19%.

The two companies acquired the stakes in the project that had been held by Total (10%) and E.ON (9%).

The other shareholders in the pipeline are British supermajor BP (20%), Azeri state player Socar (20%), Norway’s Statoil (20%) and Swiss energy company Axpo (5%).

The TAP project aims to transport gas from Azerbaijan's BP-led Shah Deniz II field in the Caspian Sea, one of the world's largest gas fields.

TAP chairman Andy Lane said the venture was planning to start road and bridge construction for the pipeline early next year.

The 870-kilometre pipeline will start by connecting with the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (Tanap) near the Turkish-Greek border at Kipoi, before crossing Greece and Albania and the Adriatic Sea to reach southern Italy.

The venture said that along the route it could supply gas to several south-eastern European countries, including Bulgaria, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Croatia among others.

TAP’s landfall in Italy would also allow for transport to large western European gas markets such as Germany, France, the UK, Switzerland and Austria.

First gas sales to Georgia and Turkey are targeted for late 2018, and first deliveries to Europe are targeted to follow around a year later, according to TAP.