Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan. 14 /Trend, E.Tariverdiyeva/
The EU considers the implementation of Nabucco gas pipeline project as the most important foreign policy priority, said German political scientist and expert on energy policy
"That's why the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso assumed the work to implement it," Rahr, the director of the German Council on Foreign Relations' Russia-Eurasia Center, told Trend by telephone from Berlin.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso signed the Joint Declaration on the Southern Gas Corridor in Baku on Jan. 13. Jose Manuel Barroso's visit to Ashgabat was scheduled for Jan. 14-15, 2011, where he will also hold talks with the country's leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov
Southern Corridor is a priority EU energy project diversifying energy supply routes and sources and increasing EU energy security. The Southern Corridor includes the Nabucco gas pipeline, Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), White Stream, and ITGI (Turkey-Greece-Italy pipeline).
Nabucco project envisages the supply of gas from the Caspian region and Middle East to the EU. Construction of the pipeline worth 7.9 billion euros is scheduled to begin in 2012. First deliveries via pipeline are expected in 2015.
According to Rahr, in September at the UN General Assembly, in the negotiations with the Turkmen leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel has made great efforts so that the Turkmen gas would shipped via Azerbaijan to Nabucco in large volumes.
According to Rahr, on the one hand, Europe is trying to reduce dependence on gas by working on alternative energy sources, and on the other hand, the issue of its own energy security in the next 20 years is very important for the EU.
So, Europe is doing everything to diversify its supplies not to depend on one supplier. Tremendous forces of the highest-ranking European officials and European politicians focus on this issue, he said.
"Despite all risks, today we can say that Nabucco has passed from the stage of mythical conversations to the stage of realization. This is a clear signal to investors that the project will be realized," he said.
Rahr said an era of hard competition begins between Russia and the EU, since Europe does not need two major gas pipelines, both Nabucco and Russian South Stream, at once.
South Stream gas pipeline was designed to transport Russian natural gas to Europe via the bottom of the Black Sea and then via Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary. The project is realized by Italy's ENI and Gazprom, which signed an agreement to build an offshore gas pipeline on June 23, 2007.
The 900 kilometers long offshore section of South Stream would start from the Beregovaya compressor station at the Russia's Black Sea coast, and would run to Bulgaria's Varna. Based on the plans, the pipeline will be commissioned by 2014. Its capacity should reach 63 billion cubic meters of gas a year. Total investment in the project is estimated at 25 billion euros.
According to Rahr, after twenty years, Europe will no longer use as much gas, considering that today Europe gets liquefied gas from the Persian Gulf countries.
"Today we enter the finishing stage of this confrontation. Perhaps, in the distant future, these two projects can be combined in the Balkans," Rahr said.
However, still the EU does not want to retreat, he said.
Nabucco contains also a political context - this is a way to reduce Russia's influence in the South Caucasus and Central Asia, and weaken the influence of China in this region," he said.
According to the analyst, the current agreements with the EU and the future participation in the project is very beneficial for Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. According to him, the EU is a very attractive economic system, to which many countries are drawn.