VIENNA, April 26 (Itar-Tass) —— The Nabucco gas pipeline will be shorter than was initially projected, with only one, “western”, section from the Turkish-Bulgarian border to Austria left of the 3,900-kilometre pipeline that was supposed to be built from the Caspian to Europe in order to make it less dependent on Russian natural gas, an OMV spokesman said.
Expert say that one of the major obstacles to Nabucco was the high cost of construction that may double the initial estimates of eight billion euros. Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban’s recent statement that his country’s energy company MOL may withdraw from the project or seriously limit its participation in it has only added to uncertainty.
Austrian Minister of Economy Reinhold Mitterlehner believes that this is no more than a delay in the implementation of the project designed to transport natural gas to Europe bypassing Russia.
In his opinion, much will depend on how big Turkey’s energy needs are and how much natural gas it can supply to Europe from the Caspian region.
The OMV spokesman said the truncated “western” section of the pipeline can be built from the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) to be built by Turkey and Azerbaijan.
At the same time, he noted that the original Nabucco project is still on the table and the final decision on its future should be made before the end of this year.
The Nabucco consortium is planning to reduce the gas pipeline’s length and capacity.
According to initial plans, the Nabucco gas pipeline was supposed to have a capacity of 31 billion cubic metres of gas a year and be 3,900 kilometres long, running from Turkey and Georgia to Austria.
However, a new route being prepared by the consortium halves the pipeline’s capacity and reduces it length to make it run from Bulgaria to Austria, The Wall Street Journal Europe said.
According to the newspaper’s sources, the consortium has failed to get assurances from gas producers in Central Asia and the Middle East that they will supply enough gas to fill the pipeline to its initial capacity.
The European Union hoped to engage Iranian gas fields for the Nabucco project. But the American administration objected to the possible transportation of Iranian natural gas through the prospective Nabucco pipeline and said that the possible transportation of Russian natural gas through that pipeline would also contradict the goal of diversified energy supplies.
Nabucco's primary target is Azerbaijani natural gas, but Iraq and Egypt also announced their wish to participate in the project.
The pipeline was supposed to transport gas from Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to Ukraine through the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Black Sea.