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Gas Games around Georgia2009-07-03 22:56
It seems Russia has outplayed Nabucco lobbyists with Georgia among them. At first Moscow signed a purchase agreement with Azerbaijan for extra gas and then invited Turkey to invest in South Stream project Gazprom is working on. If that doesn't force Ankara to reject Nabucco proposal it will at least make Turkey an interested party in the Russian project.
Russia is steadily destroying hopes of the states that place their stake on Nabucco gas line construction from Central Asia to Europe. One of the transit countries must be Georgia. Now it's Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum (BTE) gas stream crossing its territory that might become part of the Asian-European energy artery. For the time being the Georgian section has a regional value but in future it can become continentally important. By the way Nabucco is named after Nabucco opera by Giuseppe Verdi that brought pan European recognition to the composer.
In case the project is implemented Georgia hopes to have beneficial conditions for accession to the EU and NATO. As for economic benefit, Business Georgia with reference to 24 Saati newspaper reports that now with annual flow of 30 bn cubic meters of blue fuel along BTE Georgia has 5% of the flowing gas for free, and buys 300 mln cubic meters at a reduced price of USD 63. In case Nabucco is implemented and the pipe throughput is increased there will be much more free gas.
However the project that was practically materialized into real contracts in May has turned into a delusion again. The gas river with the capacity of 30 bn cubic meters per year could start from Iran, Azerbaijan and Turkmenia. But Teheran hasn't settled the conflict with the USA on its "nuclear program" yet and two other producing countries first refused to sign binding documents and now started playing on other fields.
It was Turkmenia who struck the first blow to Nabucco. Late this year it is launching the gas line to China. On June 24 the country's president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov agreed with Vice Prime Minister of the State Council of the People's Republic of China Lee Ketsyan on annual supply of 40 bn cubic meters of gas for 30 years, RIA Novosti reported with reference to Turkmenian TV. As earlier Gazprom undertook to purchase other 40 bn cubic meters the produced 70 bn cubic meters of gas are not enough for already contracted supplies. So Turkmenia's participation in Nabucco is out of question.