ECONOMY

Nabucco link not compromised

Turkey said its shipments of Azeri natural gas to Greece and Italy do not compete with the 5-billion-euro Nabucco pipeline project because the Caspian Sea can provide enough fuel for both links. Turkey began pumping the gas it imports from Azerbaijan to Greece last year. The countries are further planning a $1.1 billion undersea extension to Italy by 2012 for a total capacity of 12 billion cubic meters. The Nabucco pipeline, which aims to take Caspian gas when it opens in 2013, will link Turkey to Austria and other European markets. «These two projects are not in competition but are complimentary ones,» Murside Yilmaz of Botas, Turkey’s state pipeline operator, said at an energy conference today. «The supply source may seem the same but there is enough gas to supply both of these projects.» There is not yet a gas supply agreement for Nabucco, which will eventually ship 31 billion cubic meters of gas. Azeri and Turkmen sources are expected to supply the pipeline initially as part of efforts to cut the European Union’s reliance on Russian gas, which accounts for a quarter of the bloc’s consumption. It may also take gas from Egypt, Iran and Iraq. The Italian link «in principle» competes with Nabucco, though the latter’s capacity means it must acquire more sources than the Azeri fields that will supply the Greek and Italian links, said Mario Cumbat, a development manager at Italy’s Edison SpA, which will have access to 80 percent of the Turkish-Greek-Italian connector. «The main question today is to find new sources of gas, and the real concrete possibility is the eastern side of the Caspian Sea with the realization of the trans-Caspian» pipeline, Cumbat said. Turkmenistan, the largest Central Asian producer of gas, may back a trans-Caspian link to reach European markets to diversify its buyers. Azerbaijan may also connect its fields in the Caspian to produce another 15 to 20 billion cubic meters of gas, should it resolve territorial disputes in the sea, Cumbat said. (Bloomberg)