Nabucco West in talks to add new partners

Nabucco West in talks to add new partners

VIENNA - Reuters
Shareholders in the planned Nabucco West pipeline to bring natural gas from Azerbaijan to Europe are in talks to add at least one other European company to the project, the consortium’s managing director told Reuters, soothing dominance concerns.

Nabucco West is competing with the rival Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) for access to gas from the giant Azeri Shah Deniz II field in the Caspian Sea, which represents Europe’s best hope of reducing its reliance on supplies fromRussia.

“We definitely expect further evolution of the shareholder structure,” Nabucco West chief Reinhard Mitschek said in an interview in his Vienna office. “I expect one or other European companies will join the consortium. There is no indication any partner will leave.”

Gerhard Roiss, chief executive of Nabucco’s biggest shareholder OMV, told Reuters: “There are interested partners who would like to join. There are also talks on this, but I cannot say who would like to join because it’s confidential.”

Nabucco’s other shareholders are Bulgaria’s BEH, Turkish firm Botaş, Hungarian energy company MOL, and Romania’s Transgaz.

Russian Dominance

Bringing new companies on board could help ease concerns about the dominance of state-controlled firms in the consortium after German utility RWE sold its nearly 17 percent stake to OMV earlier this month and another potential German partner, Bayerngas, said it would not join.

The Shah Deniz group, led by BP and Norway’s Statoil, has said it will announce by the end of June whetherNabucco West or TAP will be chosen to deliver the gas. Mitschek said he did not expect any current Nabucco West shareholders to leave either before or after that decision.

The projects are strategically significant because they would reduce European energy dependence on Russia, which provides around a quarter of the continent’s 500 billion cubic metre (bcm) annual gas consumption.Analysts have said Nabucco West project would serve the most Russian-reliant regions, in central and southeast Europe, better than TAP.