Turkey seen approving RWE for Nabucco in Dec-source

( Reuters ) - Turkish state pipeline company Botas is expected to approve German utility RWE as the sixth partner for the Nabucco pipeline project this month, a senior official at Turkey's energy ministry told Reuters.

On Wednesday the Romanian partner in Nabucco, which aims to pump Caspian gas to Europe, said four of the five companies backing the project had given their approval for RWE to join and they were only waiting for Turkey's go-ahead.

The long-delayed gas pipeline project, worth approximately 4.6 billion euro , has been further held up as Botas selects a third board member, which it must do before it can officially approve a sixth Nabucco partner.

A third member is expected to be selected shortly and RWE would be approved immediately afterwards.

" Turkey's approval of RWE will not be put off until 2008 and this approval is expected to go through by the end of December," the official said.

Russia, along with Italian energy firm ENI , is planning a pipeline under the Black Sea, a move seen by analysts as directly competing with the planned Nabucco, in order to supply Europe's fast growing natural gas consumption.

The consortium made up of Austria's oil and gas group OMV , Hungary's MOL , Bulgaria's Bulgargaz, Romania's Transgaz and Turkey's Botas is still trying to find gas for the 31 billion-cubic-metre-pipeline.

Bringing RWE on board as a sixth partner will also help move along other aspects of the pipeline, the official said, without giving details.

"The approval of RWE as a partner will also facilitate other necessary work related to the pipeline," he said.

Although only gas from Azerbaijan has been secured so far, Nabucco firms also see Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Egypt and even Iraq as possible suppliers for the pipeline.

The consortium has long been in discussions with both RWE and Gaz de France to select a sixth partner for the project.

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