BAKU, November 15 (Itar-Tass) —— The United States may contribute to the Nabucco gas pipeline project, U.S. Secretary of State Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy Issues Richard Morningstar told a Tuesday press conference in Baku.
The United States keeps offering financial support to the Nabucco project, he said. If the sides agree to build the pipeline, the U.S. Export-Import Bank may contribute to it, he added.
Morningstar stressed that the opinion the project had lost its topicality was unfounded.
He also said that the United States supported the Southern Gas Corridor and any other pipelines within that project. At the same time, the Southern Gas Corridor route must be beneficial.
As for the trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline, he said the United States would support it if Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and the European Union coordinated its terms.
The Nabucco pipeline is a planned natural gas pipeline that will transport natural gas from Turkey to Austria, via Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary. It will run from Erzurum in Turkey to Baumgarten an der March, a major natural gas hub in Austria. The project is backed by the European Union and the United States. It may cost $10.7 billion.
The preparations of this project started in February 2002 when first talks took place between OMV and BOTAS. In June 2002, five companies signed a protocol of intention to construct the Nabucco pipeline, followed by the Cooperation Agreement in October 2002. In December 2003, the European Commission awarded a grant in the amount of 50% of the estimated total eligible costs of the feasibility study including market analysis, technical, economic and financial studies. On June 28, 2005, the Joint Venture Agreement was signed by five Nabucco Partners. In February 2008, RWE became a shareholder of the consortium. On June 11, 2008, the first contract to supply gas from Azerbaijan through the Nabucco pipeline to Bulgaria was signed.
The Nabucco project is included in the EU Trans-European Energy Network program and a feasibility study for the Nabucco pipeline has been performed under an EU project grant.
South Stream aims to diversify the routes of natural gas deliveries to Europe. A gas pipeline will be built across the Black Sea to Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria and Northern Italy. There will be extensions to Croatia, Macedonia, Greece and Turkey.
The construction works are due to start in 2013, and the first line with the rated capacity of 15.75 billion cubic meters of gas per year is due to become operational on December 30, 2015. After that additional facilities will be commissioned annually for bringing the total capacity of the pipeline to 63 billion cubic meters in 2018.
The project value is estimated at 15.5 billion euros, including about 10 billion euros to be invested in the sea segment.
South Stream Company registered a subsidiary, South Stream Transport AG, in early October to build the sea segment of the gas pipeline.
The company will do the planning, build, operate and give maintenance to the South Stream sea pipes.
The European Union Council authorized the European Commission on September 12 to negotiate the construction of the trans-Caspian gas pipeline with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan within the Southern Corridor initiative.