Europe has no more time to waste: Hungarian Commission head on Nabucco project

Europe has no more time to waste: Hungarian Commission head on Nabucco project

Azerbaijan, Baku,  Jan. 27 / Trend , A.Badalova /

Europe has wasted the past few years and risks letting Russia win a gas monopoly, Janos Koka, head of parliament's Nabucco committee said in an interview to Tuesday's Nepszabadsag daily.

"In the past seven years Europe has organised dozens of conferences and amassed several tonnes of strategic papers while it is the Russians and Chinese who have taken steps to win the hidden gas treasure," Koka said.

"If Europe carries on day-dreaming then Russia will have won a gas monopoly," he said. "It is no accident that, whereas the price of oil has declined to a third [from its record high] on the open market, gas prices now stand at a record high," said the former economy minister, reported MTI

He said that whereas the entire Russian political elite stood behind Gazprom, the Nabucco project lacks any kind of political unity.

"Everyone is negotiating with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan individually. Brussels could have fulfilled some sort of central role but so far this has not happened," Koka said.

Koka said that the problem of gas supply to Sofia or Sarajevo is something that people in Brussels, London and Paris only read about in the papers. "It is mainly central and eastern Europe that receives supplies of Russian gas. It is mainly our problem and this is why we must solve it," he said.

Koka said that the major task facing the Budapest conference was to set up an international protection body in order to help Europe form a single unified standpoint.

On the question of financing, Koka said that if the decision to build the 3,300 kilometre Nabucco pipeline rested on the shoulders of private investors it would probably not get underway. He added the credit guarantees were needed for the 8 billion euro project amid the current financial crisis, adding that the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development should cover the majority of the pre-financing costs.

Koka said a Catch-22 operated: the potential suppliers will not sign up until the pipeline is a reality while stakeholders need guarantees that states such as Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan will supply the required quantities of gas. This is why it is necessary for the pre-financing to be in place in the first half of 2009 in order to unblock this bottleneck, he said.

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