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What is in store for Nabucco?28.01.2010 | 22:51
An annual European gas exhibition has been opened in Vienna. According to member of the board of the Austrian OMV oil-and-gas group of companies Werner Auli, the Azerbaijani and Iranian gas for Nabucco project, which is planned as an alternative of the European gas supplied through the Russian gas pipelines, will, anyway, make it profitable. GeorgiaTimes correspondent discussed the prospects of the Nabucco project with the Russian political analysts.
The construction of the Nabucco gas pipeline is planned to be started in 2011, while the first gas is going to be supplied by 2014. At the first stage, it is supposed to transport up to 15 billion cubic meters of gas annually. The projected capacity of the gas pipe string will enable to pump 31 billion cubic meters of fuel.
The total length of the pipeline will make 3282 km considering the supplying strings, out of which 1998 km will run along the territory of Turkey. Besides, the pipelines of the Nabucco system will run across the territory of Georgia and Iran. The basic purpose of the project is the transportation of the Caspian and the Middle-East gas to Austria and other European customers. What are the prospects of this project?
Alexander Pasechnik, Head of Analytical Administration of the National Energy Supply Security Foundation
The issue of economical reasonableness of the project is rather doubtful today. The question is whether in the nearest 5-10 years Europe is going to consume the gas volumes compared to Nabucco capacity, considering the fact that the competitive pipes are already being built. For instance, the South Stream project has got much more chances, for the problem of the resource base is already settled there, while for Nabucco this point is still being developed and there are obviously going to be certain difficulties.
It is enough to say that the resource base project remains the most urgent for Nabucco. Moreover, the EU countries treat this project skeptically from financial point of view: the countries take time to make investments for the reason of unclearness and uncertainty. Although it is cheaper than the South Stream in terms of the design documentation (10 billion compared to 25 billion euros) but the amount is anyway significant, especially in the context of the crisis when the countries are especially selective in their investments and the issue of priority is essential. That is why, one can say that Nabucco has got less chances.
At the same time, it was said at the latest conferences that the project can be implemented; however, there was an implication that in case of the project unprofitability and the absence of a sound resource base Nabucco may be wound down or suspended from 2013 until 2015 and etc. As is known, Turkmenia is currently supplying large volumes of gas to China and it will have to expand capacity for Nabucco, so this is a doubtful question. Political risks are too high if the gas is supplied from Iran. As to Azerbaijan, the country is cooperating with Russia, which has stated its readiness to buy the whole amount of gas from the republic.
Thus, I do not see any specific need in Nabucco for Europe; the more so as there is high-technology gas from Qatar. Thus, the project chances are rapidly going down.
Sergey Demidenko, an expert from the Strategic Evaluations and Analysis Institute
This project may become real in a very long time. First of all, it is not clear where to get the gas for the project. Initially, the project was planned for Iran; however, one cannot speak about any gas supplies from Iran to Nabucco because of the certain geopolitical circumstances. From the economic point of view, Iran has got rather significant gas supplies but they are absolutely undeveloped. Potential volumes and the raw material transportation route are undefined as well. That is why, the whole affair is purely theoretical, and we can hardly speak about Nabucco implementation. At present, the project is mostly used as political speculation and as a tool for pressing upon Russia. This is a paper project.
Considering the project prospects, we have got a great number of "if"s. If Iran gets connected to Nabucco; if Iran changes its political orientation and investments will start flowing; if Iran develops its own gas sector at an appropriate level and so on. All those "if"s make up a myth, and there are no other sources to provide Nabucco with gas. Azerbaijan's proposal is not enough to fill even the half of the pipeline, so the issue of the prospects may sooner be attributed to the field of geopolitical modeling rather than to the field of realities.
Stanislav Belkovskiy, President of National Strategy Institute
Nabucco is a political project. Against the background of a gas war, it is politically important for Europe to have alternative sources of transporting the Central-Asian gas and create new gas sources; in this case, we are talking about Iranian gas. However, the project will not be realized soon, irregardless of its profitability. The highest profit the Nabucco developers may get is political dividends in case the project is successful.