Nabucco pipeline construction pushed back to 2013

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Construction of the Nabucco pipeline, a project designed to bring natural gas to Europe from suppliers other than Russia, will start in 2013 instead of 2012 as initially planned, its managing director announced on Friday (6 May).

Reinhard Mitschek, managing director of the Nabucco Gas Pipeline consortium, said the plans had been modified following announcements by potential suppliers in the Caspian and Middle East regions.

Construction is now expected to commence in 2013 in order to align the Nabucco timeline with these potential gas suppliers, Mitschek said.

For the time being, Nabucco's only potential supplier is the Shah Deniz II gas field in Azerbaijan. The first gas there is expected to come on stream in the first quarter of 2017. That date is not new and has not recently been changed.

Other projects seen as competitors to Nabucco, such as ITGI and TAP, are also expected to be ready to receive their first gas in 2017 (see 'Background').

Mitschek is quoted as saying in a written statement that Nabucco’s progress has been positive so far.

The open season process for tendering gas from Shah Deniz II to Nabucco, its competitors, Turkey and other possible clients will start as soon as there are firm indications that gas supply commitments are in place, he added.

Mitschek also explained that all gas supply negotiations are being led by the Nabucco shareholders and not by the pipeline consortium, which acts as the infrastructure company.

The Nabucco project has recently suffered from bad press. The consortium refuted media reports that its construction costs had been revised to €12-15 billion from an official figure of €7.9 billion.

Furthermore, problems regarding gas supply were also standing in the way as Hungary had not yet signed the project supply agreement.

According to specialised media, these developments are more likely to have triggered the delay to Nabucco than alleged changes to the timing of gas supplies.

The 'Southern Gas Corridor' is seen as part of a 'New Silk Road' of transport and energy links between Europe and the Caspian region.

The best-known pipeline project is Nabucco. But other smaller projects, such as the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), the Turkey-Greece-Italy Interconnector (ITGI) or the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Romania Interconnector (AGRI), all have the potential to become important elements of the Southern Gas Corridor and even call into question the future of Nabucco.

Some, like Russia's South Stream, even have the potential to become Nabucco 'killers' by making the flagship EU project irrelevant (more).

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