Ipic could join Nabucco pipeline plan

Ipic could join Nabucco pipeline plan

Nabucco Gas Pipeline International, the consortium that plans to build the eight-billion-euro Nabucco natural gas pipeline, may add Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum Investment Company (Ipic) as a member by the end of this year, Gulf News reported.

According to the Dow Jones Energy Daily, which quoted an industry source and a person close to the company, Ipic is interested in taking an equity stake in the project.

Ipic officials were not available for comment yesterday, and a spokesman for the Nabucco consortium in Vienna declined to confirm whether it has discussed admitting Ipic.

The consortium "is open to a seventh shareholder, if the project stays strong", the spokesman said in a statement to Dow Jones. "We will assess it if there's interest in the market, but the shareholders must make the decision."

The Nabucco consortium comprises German utility RWE, Austria's OMV, Hungary's MOL, Turkey's Botas, the Bulgarian Energy Holding, and Romania's Transgaz. Ipic already holds a 20 per cent stake in OMV.

The Nabucco pipeline is considered the new gas bridge from Asia to Europe and the flagship project in the Southern Corridor. It will connect the world's richest gas regions - the Caspian, Middle East and Egypt - to the European consumer markets.

The main supplier is expected to be Azerbaijan in cooperation with Turkmenistan, Iraq and Egypt.

The UAE has invested strongly in Turkmenistan. So far, the consortium has been unable to reach a supply agreement with Turkmenistan over gas prices and transport costs.

The pipeline should be a "flagship" for European energy security despite slow progress, a policy brief from the Centre for European Reform in London said in May.

European countries look to the proposed gas link as a way to break Russia's grip on regional energy.

Construction of the Nabucco pipeline is expected to start in 2011 and the first gas to flow at the end of 2014.

The first stage of the project will commence in Ahiboz, south of Ankara in Turkey, and will continue westwards for 2,730km to the Bulgarian border.

The Bulgarian sector stretches towards the existing compressor station at Lozenets, before crossing the Stara Planina mountain range. This section is 412km long before it crosses into Romania under the Danube river.

After continuing 469km in Romania, the pipeline crosses into Hungary where it will run for 384km. It crosses into Austria, where after 47km it ends at Baumgarten.

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