Nabucco project may be affected by Romanian-Bulgarian maritime dispute

Nabucco project may be affected by Romanian-Bulgarian maritime dispute

Azerbaijan, Baku, March 28 / Trend A.Badalova /

Nabucco gas pipeline project may be affected by the maritime dispute between Romania and Bulgaria, Senior Fellow of Jamestown Foundation (Washington), Trend Expert Council Vladimir Socor believes.

In an article, published on Jamestown Foundation's official website, Socor mentioned that Romania's Foreign Affairs Minister, Cristian Diaconescu last week stated that a "legal dispute" exists between Romania and Bulgaria over the delimitation of their maritime border, continental shelf, and exclusive economic zones in the Black Sea.

According to Diaconescu, the border dispute is about 17 square kilometers, which is not much, the minister believes. However Diaconescu added that there is no reason why "these issues should not get settled very quickly."

Bulgaria and Romania have been negotiating on the delimitation of their Black Sea territories for more than 20 years now. According to the Romanian ministry's statement, the next round of talks is to be held this year.

"According to subsequent Romanian clarifications, the disputed maritime area measures some 350 square kilometers in a critical location. It forms a triangle, centered on the point at which Romania's, Bulgaria's, and Turkey's respective exclusive economic zones converge," Socor says.

He stressed that, according to Romania's State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Bogdan Aurescu, the Nabucco pipeline might run from Turkey directly to Romania on the seabed, bypassing Bulgaria, and this could become a possibility, if Romania wins the seabed portion that would connect its exclusive economic zone with Turkey's

"This "if" seems a big if in the first place; but even in that eventuality, there is no basis for assuming that Caspian gas suppliers or transit pipeline owners would consider such an idea," Socor says.

As an attempt to build Romanian negotiating leverage against Bulgaria, it lacks credibility, Socor belives.

"On the other hand, forcing a delay to South Stream would help Nabucco to survive as "Nabucco-West" from Bulgaria to Vienna. This could be the Trans-Anatolia project's continuation pipeline into EU territory," he said.

Nabucco gas pipeline is one of the Southern Gas Corridor projects, which is designed to transport gas from the Caspian region and Middle East to the European countries. The project's original concept envisages the construction of the pipeline with the length at 3,900 kilometres from the Georgian-Turkish and Iraqi-Turkish borders to Baumgarten. The pipeline is expected to run through Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria.

Nabucco-West, which is the short version of the project, envisages the construction of the pipeline from the Turkish-Bulgarian border to the Austrian Baumgarten.

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