The European Union is trying to reduce its dependence on Russian gas by developing the so-called Southern Gas Corridor which is expected to bring around 16 billion cubic metres of gas per year to Europe by 2020.
The gas would come from the Shah Deniz 2 field in Azerbaijan via the 1850-km TANAP through Turkey, the South Caucasus pipeline extension through Georgia and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) to Greece, Albania and Italy.
Financing the 8.5 billion dollar TANAP pipeline has already been approved by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the World Bank and Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB).
The EU sees the new gas route as a way to offset declining European gas production, provide a diversified source of gas and displace coal-fired power generation in central and south eastern Europe.
But climate campaigners have questioned the wisdom of pumping more gas into the EU as the bloc seeks to decrease its emissions.
Other activists say doing business with Azerbaijan, with a poor record on human rights and corruption, would go against the bank’s principals.
The EIB said it had engaged with civil society groups and carried out due diligence.
“The EIB Board approved the TANAP project after extensive discussion and requested that the EIB ensure that during contract negotiations all social and environmental regulations, as well as human rights are fully adhered to,” an EIB spokesman said. ($1 = 0.8118 euros)
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