Nabucco West selected as potential gas route
by Daniel Mason
The Nabucco West pipeline has been chosen ahead of a rival project as a potential route for carrying gas from the Caspian Sea to the European Union. It saw off competition from the alternative South East Europe Pipeline, Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz consortium announced yesterday.
Nabucco West is designed to carry gas 1,300km from the western Turkish border through Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary to Baumgarten in Austria. However, no final decision will be made until next year, when Nabucco West goes up against the 780km Trans-Adriatic Pipeline from Turkey to Italy via Greece, which won an equivalent preliminary competition in February. Then, TAP was preferred to another rival scheme known as ITGI.
No budget has been given for Nabucco West by its owners, while cost of constructing TAP is estimated at €1.5bn. Whichever project is chosen, it will contribute to the EU's aim of reducing its reliance on Russian gas – a particular priority since price disputes between Russia and Ukraine in 2006 and 2009 caused supply disruptions. Currently Russia provides about a quarter of the EU's gas.
As part of those efforts, the EU had originally backed a larger-scale Nabucco project, which would have carried gas 3,900km all the way across Turkey and into central Europe. Yesterday the EU's energy commissioner's Günther Oettinger welcomed the progress of the reduced-scale version.
"We are a step closer to getting gas directly for Azerbaijan and other countries in the Caspian region," he said. "Whatever the final decision on the whole route from the eastern part of Turkey to Europe, Azerbaijani gas is certain to come to Europe. This is a success for Europe and for our security of supply."
The Shah Deniz gas field is led by BP and Norwegian company Statoil. In a statement BP said it would work with the owners of the two remaining competing pipelines, Nabucco West and TAP, and make a final choice on which to award the contract to in mid-2013. The SEEP project that lost out to Nabucco West had been developed by BP, while Statoil leads the TAP plan. The latest stage of the development of Shah Deniz is expected to add 16 billion cubic metres of supply per year to the current 9bcm a year produced by the field.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, Turkey and Azerbaijan gave the go-ahead for the construction of another part of the pipeline jigsaw in the region, the Trans-Anatolia Pipeline from one end of Turkey to the other. It is due to be built by 2017 and will connect the Caspian region to the EU pipeline, which should be completed by the same date.