Turkey, Russia and Italy issued a joint declaration in Milan Monday, announcing their official support to the Samsun Ceyhan pipeline project, which aims to reduce increasing traffic on the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles Straits in Istanbul and to provide an alternative route for Russia and Kazakhstan?s oil.

"This project, will enhance relations between the three nations, ensure energy security, and help protect the environment," said the declaration which also confirmed the integration of Russian companies to the project, in line with the agreements signed between Turkey and Russia in Ankara on August 6.

During the meeting, Italian energy company Eni and Turkish company Calik Energy --which hold 50 percent shares of the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Company (Tapco), the contractor of the project-- signed a MoU with Russian companies Transneft and Rosneft.

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz told reporters at the joint press conference held after the meeting that around 160 million tons of oil was transported though the Turkish straits annually noting that the Samsun Ceyhan pipeline project would reduce this by 50 million tons.

Italian Economic Development Minister Claudio Scajola said they were ready to support all energy projects that also looked out for the ecological balance.

The 550-km long (340 miles) pipeline is expected to cost $1.5 billion and will ship an initial 1 million barrels per day between Black Sea oil terminal in Samsun and Mediterranean oil terminal in Ceyhan, Turkey, with plans to raise the capacity to 1.5 million bpd.