ISTANBUL - Confirming that groundbreaking progress has been made on the Nabucco project, a senior official says an agreement will be signed by the end of June. An important factor in the breakthrough was Turkey’s dropping of its demand to buy cheaper gas from the pipeline
Groundbreaking progress has been made on the Nabucco pipeline project, a senior Turkish official confirmed yesterday, but denied earlier reports that all terms had been agreed upon.
The official said there were still disagreements to solve before the end of June, the target date for signing the intergovernmental agreement.
The official rebuffed news reports that the agreement would be signed on June 25. "The aim is to make the document ready to be signed by the end of June. But we have not yet set a specific date," the official said. The document will lay the intergovernmental legal framework for Nabucco.
The 3,300-kilometer pipeline is planned to carry Central Asian natural gas to Europe via Turkey. The agreement will be signed by countries that the pipeline traverses, namely Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria.
An important factor in the breakthrough is that Turkey dropped its demand for discounted prices on 15 percent of the gas that passes through the pipeline, the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review has learned. The Turkish Energy Ministry was behind the policy of asking for extra advantages as the transit country, but as the Foreign Ministry took over the responsibility of conducting negotiations last January, some of these demands ceased to be voiced by the Turkish side. But Turkish negotiators have not ceased to voice the need to satisfy Turkey’s own energy requirements.
The draft of the intergovernmental agreement includes wording that takes into consideration Turkey’s need to secure an energy supply, said an official familiar with the negotiations, but stopped short of disclosing that wording, instead adding that the negotiating process had not yet finished. "There is still disagreement on the issue of how the income tax will be shared. We are driving a hard bargain on that issue," said the official. But the Turkish side is hopeful the issue will be solved at the end of the two rounds of discussions that will take place before the end of May, leaving enough time for preparations for the signing ceremony.