Montenegro and Albania have received a joint grant amounting to €2.5 million from the Western Balkan Investment Framework (WBIF) for the conceptual design of the project of the Ionian-Adriatic Pipeline (IAP) through these two countries, the government of Montenegro said on February 22.

WBIF supports socio-economic development and EU accession across the Western Balkans through the provision of finance and technical assistance for strategic investments, particularly in infrastructure, energy efficiency and private sector development. It is a joint initiative of the EU, International Financial institutions, bilateral donors and the governments of the Western Balkans.

At a meeting of the Unit for Project Management, made up of representatives of ministries and gas transmission system operators of Croatia, Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro’s Economy Minister Dragica Sekulić said on February 22 that implementation of the IAP project is to begin in the second quarter of 2017.

In an effort to reduce reliance on Russian gas, the European Commission is seeking to diversify energy imports and increase security of supply. This is a key objective of the European Energy Security Strategy. In this context, the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) is a major initiative to bring Caspian and Central Asian gas resources to European markets. The Ionian-Adriatic Pipeline can play a role in the Southern Corridor.

From now on, representatives of the Energy Community Secretariat will be taking part in the work of the Unit for Project Management so that IAP will ensure additional mobility towards the relevant lists of priority projects of the EU and the region, which means easier financing conditions, the government of Montenegro said.

The meeting of the Unit for Project Management was held on the eve of the Third Ministerial Meeting of the Advisory Council of the Southern Gas Corridor in Baku on February 23, which was attended by European Commission Vice President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič.

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