Oct 21, 2009
The Nabucco gas pipeline consortium remains open to a seventh partner but is not in talks with any potential new entrant, including GDF Suez, according to reports.
GDF Suez said last week it was ready to study again taking a part in the project after the consortium picked RWE as its sixth partner last year.
Turkey cut off talks in 2007 with Gaz de France, which merged with Suez in 2008, over joining the project because of a French law that termed the killing of ethnic Armenians under the Turkey’s former Ottoman Empire as genocide.
“The consortium is open to a seventh partner if they add value,” Reuters quoted Christian Dolezal, the head of communication and public affairs for Nabucco as telling reporters on the sidelines of a gas and electricity conference in Paris.
“But we are not currently in talks with any new potential partners. When we will receive an offer we will discuss it,” he said, reiterating that the consortium would make a final investment decision on the project in 2010.
Nabucco’s shareholders include Austria’s OMV, Hungary’s MOL, Romania’s Transgaz, Bulgaria’s Bulgaraz, Turkey’s Botas and Germany’s RWE.
The €7.9 billion ($11.7 million) Nabucco pipe aims to carry natural gas from the Middle East and the Caspian region to Central Europe to reduce the region’s reliance on Russian gas.
A spat in January between Russia and gas transit country Ukraine left European customers without supply for two weeks in the dead of winter, giving added urgency to the project.
The first gas was likely to flow from Iraq and Azerbaijan from 2014 and the full 31 billion cubic metre capacity was expected between 2018 and 2020, Dolezal said, confirming that construction of the 3300 kilometre pipeline would start in 2011.
Energy analysts have questioned the plan to transport gas from the Caspian region to an Austrian gas hub via Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary, because Nabucco has lacked solid supply agreements.
“The shippers will decide where the gas comes from but it’s very political,” he said, adding the consortium was confident there would be enough gas to fill the European and US-backed pipeline.
“Gas will come from other sources such as Egypt and Russia,” he said.