The 8 billion-cubic-metre-a-year pipeline, which will transport gas to the Italian mainland though Sardinia, was originally due for completion in 2009.

However, difficulties in obtaining authorisation for the pipeline route and landing points added to delays which had already occurred due to protracted intergovernmental negotiations in 2007 (MEED 4:4:08).

According to statements issued on 1 October by the Galsi consortium, which includes the Algerian state-run oil firm Sonatrach, and Italian gas operator Snam Rete Gas, the Galsi group will develop the engineering and obtain the main permits for the project, while the Italian firm will build the pipeline and subsequently manage the gas transport activities.

The statements did not say when work would start.

Galsi is a joint venture between Sonatrach with 41.6 per cent, and three Italian firms: Edison with 20.8 per cent, Enel with 15.6 per cent and Hera Trading with 10.4 per cent. The Sardinian authorities holds the remaining 11.6 per cent stake.

Snam Rete Gas is 50 per cent owned by Italian oil company Eni.

The 520-kilometre-long Italian section of the pipeline will account for about two-thirds of the cost, with the 310km section between Cagliari and El-Kala on the Algerian coast making up the balance.

A framework agreement to carry out the project was signed by Rome and Algiers on 14 November 2007.