Aliyev favors Nabucco

Aliyev favors Nabucco

BAKU - Reuters
Aliyev favors Nabucco

The Nabucco West pipeline would take a northern route from the Turkish Bulgarian border and Austria. Azerbaijan’s government is currently deciding between the Nabucco pipeline and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline into Italy. REUTERS photo

Azerbaijan’s best bet for piping natural gas to western Europe from the Caspian Sea is the Nabucco West project, Industry and Energy Minister Natik Aliyev has said ahead of a formal decision.

Aliyev’s comment is not an official decision, but comes as the government is preparing to decide between Nabucco West or the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which would take a southern route into Italy.

Nabucco West would take a northern route from the Turkish-Bulgarian border to Baumgarten, Austria.

“I consider that Nabucco West is the best option from all points of view,” Aliyev told reporters.

“It has a big capacity, big diameter, and it gives us the opportunity to deliver gas to Eastern and Central Europe. It’s a more reliable market for Azeri gas.”

The Nabucco consortium had withdrawn from a longer project, mainly because of a growing competition for transferring the Caspian gas to Europe. The initiative later revealed the current West Nabucco plan, after Turkey and Azerbaijan signed the $7 billion Trans-Anatolian natural gas pipeline (TANAP) project that is slated to carry gas to Turkey’s western border.

Nabucco is ready to obtain its natural gas supplies from TANAP on the Turkish-Bulgarian border, spokesperson Christian Dolezal said earlier this month.

Nabucco West and TAP were shortlisted earlier this year by Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II consortium, led by BP Plc and Statoil.

The European Commission says it welcomes progress toward diversifying the EU’s supplies away from a heavy reliance on Russian gas through a route it calls the Southern Corridor.

Players in the game

It says it does not favor one project or route over another as long as it carries Azeri gas. “The commission’s position on the Southern Corridor is consistently independent of pipeline options, establishing criteria for success, not mandating one pipeline or another,” commission spokeswoman Marlene Holzner said in an emailed comment.

Azeri gas fields are the most developed new non-Russian sources of natural gas that can be pumped to the European Union through pipelines. The gas would first move through Turkey before taking either TAP’s southern route or the Nabucco West path into Austria.

TAP, whose partners are Statoil, Swiss EGL and Germany’s E.ON Ruhrgas, was not immediately available for comment. BP operates the Shah Deniz II gas field, which is thought to contain 1.2 trillion cubic metres of gas. BP holds a 25.5 percent stake, as does Statoil. The rest is divided between Azerbaijan state oil company SOCAR, Russia’s LUKOIL, NICO, Total SA and TPAO. Nabucco’s six shareholders are Austria’s OMV, Germany’s RWE, Hungary’s MOL through its gas pipeline operator FGSZ,Turkey’s Botaş, BEH of Bulgaria and Romania’s Transgaz.