Romania: EU Gives GoAhead to Nabucco Gas Pipeline Project

27. Juni 2006, 00:00

Energy ministers from Romania, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey signed on Monday, June 26, in Vienna a support...

Energy ministers from Romania, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey signed on Monday, June 26, in Vienna a support agreement for the Nabucco natural gas pipeline.

The Nabucco project entails the construction of a transit natural gas passage from the Caspian Sea region to Western Europe. It should become operational by 2011 and will have an annual capacity of 4.5-13 billion cubic meters.

On Monday, the EU energy commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, met energy ministers from partner states - Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary - in Vienna at the opening ceremony of the energy community.

The signatories agreed to speed up the commercial, regulatory and legal works on the Nabucco gas pipeline project in order to swiftly streamline the way for identifying financing opportunities for the project.

Officials for the countries involved in the project stated in the beginning of the inter-ministry conference in Vienna that they wanted the European Commission to agree to a number of exceptions from current provisions, so as to be able to sign 10-12-year supply contracts in advance, exceptions with which EC members agreed in principle.

On the occasion, the European Commission has agreed with energy ministers of member and acceding states to speed up the USD 5.8 billion gas pipeline project.

President of the EU Energy Council, Martin Bartenstein, said: "The Nabucco gas pipeline is one of the most important European energy projects, which allows the EU to diversify its transport routes and gas supplier countries”.

The EC does not admit long term projects but the Nabucco pipeline is of major importance for the Union as an alternative to the Russian gas delivery by Gazprom, and an exception is to be made, according to some EU officials.

This project could lead to a decreasing dependence of the Western states on Russia.
However, Turkey wishes to have the right to veto the joining of new partners to the Nabucco project.
Romania is very interested in the project since it would allow the connection of the Romanian gas transportation system with similar systems from Hungary and Bulgaria and also integration into the European system as a whole.

Romania takes part in the Nabucco Project through SNTGN Transgaz SA Medias. The length of the pipeline in Romania will reach approx. 450 km, out of a total 3,282 km of the pipeline designed to transport natural gas across five countries.

The idea of building a transcontinental pipeline was triggered by the constant decrease of natural gas deliveries from the North Sea. The more burdening dependence on Russian natural gas and the rise in prices for liquefied gas produced in Northern African states was a warning signal that new viable solutions must be found in the natural gas supply sector.

Experts estimate the Nabucco project will strengthen the security of Europes natural gas supply operations, lead to the diversification of gas sources, and ensure European markets access to important natural gas reserves in the Caspian Sea and the Middle East.

The other companies involved in the Nabucco project are OMV (Austria), Botas (Turkey), MOL (Hungary) and Bulgargaz (Bulgaria).

The construction of the 3,300 km pipe is scheduled to begin in 2008 and finish around 2011.

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