Prime ministers to attend Nabucco summit
The signing ceremony for the intergovernmental agreement to build the Nabucco gas pipeline will be a high-profile event, gathering the prime ministers of several countries on 13 July in Ankara, EurActiv Turkey reported today (9 July).
Ankara has been working hard to host the Nabucco summit next Monday, when the inter-governmental agreement to build the gas pipeline will be signed.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister, sent invitations to the leaders of all major transit and neighbouring countries. Hungarian Prime Minister Gordon Bajnaj and Austrian Chancellor Weyner Fayman have already confirmed that they will attend the ceremony.
EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs will also attend, and there will also be representatives from the USA, it has been announced.
The press in Azerbaijan reported that the country has also been invited to the event.
According to the summit programme, the leaders will gather for a dinner after the signing ceremony. They will then have opportunities for bilateral meetings.
'Project of national importance' to Bulgaria
Initially depicted as a US-sponsored initiative, Nabucco was subsequently transformed into a priority EU project aimed at decreasing Europe's dependency on Russian gas.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev, who recently lost national elections to Sofia Mayor Boyko Borissov, will attend the ceremony on behalf of his country after the two men held discussions, according to reports in the Bulgarian press.
As reported by Dnevnik, EurActiv's partner in Bulgaria, one of the last decisions of the outgoing government will be to give Nabucco the status of "project of national importance". The status is expected to greatly facilitate property transformation of land and help to obtain construction permits.
Not enough gas committed
But Necdet Pamir, board member at the World Energy Council's Turkish National Committee told EurActiv Turkey that transit countries will only make a "principle commitment" at the summit. The inter-governmental agreement will not include many details, he added.
"After the singing ceremony, it will not be possible to say 'Nabucco is done'," Pamir said, adding that signing the agreement is a good move but that further steps are needed.
Stressing that not enough gas had been committed to fill the Nabucco pipe for the time being, Pamir said Turkey's main objective was to reduce its dependence on Russian sources by acquring eight billion cubic metres more Azeri gas.
"On the other hand, Europe wants Turkey not to use gas from Nabucco and just be a transit country," he says. Pamir said that he expected Turkey would be under pressure on this issue at the summit.
An inter-governmental agreement to build the Nabucco gas pipeline, aimed at decreasing the EU's dependence on Russian gas, is due to be signed on 13 July in Ankara, the European Commission recently announced (EurActiv 06/07/09).
Nabucco, which is expected to come onstream in 2014, will bring Caspian gas to a hub in Austria via Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary. The recent gas crisis between Russia and Ukraine has convinced decision-makers of the need to speed up the project (see EurActiv LinksDossier on 'Pipeline Politics').
Azerbaijan is seen as the project's most likely first gas supplier, while in future, it would also bring supplies from the Middle East. Supplies from Iraq are currently being considered, while in future Iran could also become an important supplier.
The Nabucco consortium comprises leading European energy companies: OMV of Austria, MOL of Hungary, RWE of Germany, Bulgargaz of Bulgaria, Transgaz of Romania and Botas of Turkey. But three consortium members - OMV, MOL and Bulgargaz - have already signed up to Gazprom's South Stream pipeline, raising questions about conflicts of interest, or indeed their commitment to Nabucco.
Meanwhile, Russia is stepping up efforts to start implementing its rival 'South Stream' project (EurActiv 25/05/09). The country's Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko recently announced that South Stream would more than double its planned capacity from 31 billion cubic metres per year (bcm/y) to 63bcm. Italy's ENI is Gazprom's main partner in 'South Stream'.
Turkey has used the Nabucco project as a bargaining chip with the EU. Also, Ankara seeks to use 15% of all natural gas flowing through the pipe as part of the deal for letting it pass through Turkish territory (EurActiv 29/05/09).
- 13 July: Signature of inter-governmental agreement.
- By end 2009: Nabucco consortium plans to begin to realise engineering operations, including commissions for pipes and compressor stations.
- 2011: Actual construction begins.
- 2012: Suppliers are determined.
- 2014: Pipeline becomes operational.