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Europe

EU countries to sign landmark gas-transit deal with Turkey

Video by Jean-Rémy BAUDOT , Rachel MARUSAK

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-07-13

Turkey will sign a landmark gas-transit agreement with four EU countries on Monday to back the long-planned Nabucco project.The 3,330-kilometre pipeline is aimed at reducing Europe's reliance on Russian gas.

AFP - EU countries and Turkey are to sign off Monday on Nabucco, a landmark pipeline project aimed at reducing Europe's reliance on Russian gas.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is to host the signing of transit agreements between his country, Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania at a ceremony in Ankara.

Backers hope the 3,300-kilometre (2,000-mile) pipeline will one day pump as much as 31 billion cubic metres of gas from the Caspian Sea to Austria via Turkey and the Balkans, bypassing Russia.

A quarter of all natural gas used in Europe currently comes from Russia. A gas row between Russia and Ukraine, a key transit point, severely disrupted supplies to Europe amid freezing temperatures.

Nabucco is expected to become operational in 2014 at an estimated cost of 7.9 billion euros (10.9 billion dollars).

In a sign of the importance being attached to the project, Monday's ceremony will be attended by European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso; Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of potential supplier nation Iraq; and US special envoy for Eurasian energy Richard Morningstar, Turkish officials said.

Two European banks have expressed willingness to support the project financially, but analysts say securing the cost could be difficult amid the global economic slowdown and are unconvinced enough gas supplies will be found.

Nabucco got a boost on Friday when Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov signalled his nation's willingness to get involved.

Turkmenistan, like two other potential suppliers in Central Asia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, had held back from supporting the pipeline at a meeting in May in Prague.

Nabucco is a rival to Russia's South Stream project, developed by Russian gas giant Gazprom and Italy's Eni, which will channel Russian gas through Bulgaria to Western Europe under the Black Sea.

The signing of the Nabucco agreement has been delayed several times by Turkey's desire to use 15 percent of the gas flowing through the pipeline for domestic use or even for re-export.

Turkish news agencies reported on Sunday that Ankara had now dropped this demand in return for a 50 to 60 percent share of the tax revenue from the project, which could be up to 450 million euros (630 million dollars) a year.

 

Date created : 2009-07-13

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