The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) group is working on \"high level\" accord between \"Italy, Greece and Albania\", TAP\'s communications director Michael Hoffmann announced in Brussels Thursday. \"We are also working with the Italian government,\" Hoffmann said. \"And we must act as a team. The project is at an advanced stage, and now must progress with a high level accord - first an inter-ministerial agreement, then an inter-governmental agreement among the three countries involved in the project.\" The competition between TAP and Nabucco West, the two remaining contenders for building the Southern Gas Corridor from the Shah Deniz gas fields in Azerbaijan through southern Europe, will come to a close mid-2013. The timing is such that the first political agreements are expected just after the summer, and the second round of agreements by the beginning of 2013. Nabucco West would carry gas from the Shah Deniz gas fields in Azerbaijan to Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria, whereas TAP would build pipelines also through Greece and Albania to Italy. \"Today we had strong assurances from the European Commission on the complete neutrality of the competition open from Shah Deniz. The priority is to obtain gas from the Caspian, independently of the pre-chosen route of the pipeline,\" Hoffman concluded.