’Nabucco project not anti-Russian’

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’Nabucco project not anti-Russian’
Oluşturulma Tarihi: Şubat 12, 2009 00:00

ANKARA - Without Turkey, Nabucco will not be realized. Therefore, there is no plan B for the project. Nabucco needs Turkey and Turkey needs Nabucco, says Reinhard Mitschek, managing director of the European Union's flagship project.

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Although characterized as a scheme aimed at reducing Europe's dependence on Russian natural gas supplies, the Nabucco pipeline project is not anti-Russian, said the managing director of Nabucco Gas Pipeline International.

"Nabucco is no anti-Russian project, it is a European project," Reinhard Mitschek told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review in an interview. The Austrian official held discussions with Turkish officials last week in Ankara.

Over 40 percent of natural gas in Europe is imported from Russia, which has prompted the European Union over the past few years to develop a plan to reduce this dependence. The proposed Nabucco pipeline project, aimed at bringing Caspian gas to the West through Turkey, is often described as an alternative plan to diversify energy sources and curtail the Russian monopoly, while any Russian participation is believed to be against the philosophy of the project.

"If gas traders will buy Russian gas, Nabucco will transport it. That will not limit the option to also transport gas from alternative sources to Europe. Our offer to establish a gas transport route from the new sources in the Caspian region and the Middle East will not be limited at all," Mitschek said.

But he stressed that direct participation from a Russian company was not under discussion.

Officials from the EU, Nabucco partners and potential suppliers gathered in Budapest last month to breathe fresh air into the stalled project in the wake of the recent Russian-Ukrainian gas dispute, which left Europeans shivering for weeks. But the project faces obstacles including finding alternative supplies to fill the pipeline.

"Nabucco will start to transport the first 8 to 10 billion cubic meters per year in 2014. We are confident that the gas will be available," Mitschek said.

"Nabucco will be filled step by step, at first most likely with gas from Azerbaijan, in further steps with gas supply from Egypt, Turkmenistan and Iraq. Iran has huge gas reserves and Europe will have to cover an increasing need for gas imports in the future," he said.

'Win-win' for Turkey and EU

Turkey's role in the multinational project is another source of concern. Ankara wants Turkey to play a hub role rather than act merely as a transit country in the delivery of gas supplies to the West. Mitschek said fruitful negotiations were ongoing at a political level and expressed optimism that an agreement would be reached.

"Considering the recent gas crises, Nabucco establishes a win-win situation for Turkey and Europe and therefore a good compromise will be reached," he said.

"Without Turkey, Nabucco will not be realized. Therefore there is no plan B for the project. Nabucco needs Turkey and Turkey needs Nabucco. Of course the sponsor companies do have a plan B for their business development with or without Nabucco," added the official.

Deal to be sealed in Turkey

An intergovernmental agreement on Nabucco will be signed in Turkey, according to Mitschek. "We expect signing in the second quarter of 2009, latest end of June," he noted.

Mitschek said the first of the gas would flow in 2014 and construction would start in 2010 to 2011. "Nabucco will be constructed to start at the eastern borders of Turkey with feeder lines from the Georgian border and the Iranian border, crossing Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary to Austria," he said.

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