Engineers started taking soil samples from the seafloor near southern Italy as part of plans to lay a natural gas pipeline, project leaders said. Engineers working on the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline started taking samples at a depth of 65 feet below the seafloor off the southwest coast of Italy. TAP said the purpose of the survey is to examine the Adriatic seabed along the future route of the proposed natural gas pipeline. Paul Pasteris, country manager for TAP, said local residents can be assured that the survey met international environmental and safety standards. TAP is up against the smaller Interconnector Turkey-Greece pipeline and the Nabucco project included as part of the so-called Southern Corridor of European transit networks. TAP in December announced it signed an agreement with Albanian authorities that gives it access to land ownership information within the pipeline\'s planned corridor through the country. TAP would reach from the Caspian Sea through Greece, Albania and to Western Europe. The consortium said it was \"fully on schedule\" with gas developments in Azerbaijan, which could start shipping some of its gas through the Southern Corridor by 2017.