"Nabucco": view from Baku

Analysis Materials 2 May 2012 18:57 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, May 2 /Trend/

Azer Ahmedbeyli, Trend analytical centre expert

There were many talks about the death or fatal blows inflicted to Nabucco, it was buried several times. However, the project had shown an enviable vitality and continues to compete with others, intended to transport Caspian gas to Europe. Some time ago, Nabucco shortened route, reduced power and changed the name, but now a new stage of transformation - a possible change in the composition of the shareholders.

The Hungarian company MOL is ready to sell its stake in the project, explaining that there is still many unanswered questions remain, including questions of sources of gas, costs, including transport, and this is the reason that MOL can no longer fund the Nabucco Gas Pipeline International (NIC). In addition, funding for NIC costs around 20 million euros for the Hungarian company, and the NIC was not managed properly. In parallel, the Prime Minister of Bulgaria Boyko Borisov said the other day that Bulgaria isn't able to realize Nabucco pipeline project. "At present, Bulgaria has no real opportunity to realize this project. We offer the following to our partners - if we want to build Nabucco, the European Investment Bank could fund it, then we would gradually return loans" he said.

However, there is other news. The German company Bayerngas retains the intention to join Nabucco pipeline project as a shareholder, Reuters reported recently quoting the company's representative. He said the company is still interested in Nabucco, even after the demarche of the Hungarian MOL. The representative added that Bayerngas tends to take a decision about joining this year, and the condition was the economic feasibility of the project. Source of the NIC reported that Bayerngas is currently in negotiations with the consortium to become the seventh shareholder.

The most ambitious project of the Southern Corridor not once faced serious problems.
Baku rendered serious service to Nabucco by making a decision to build TANAP pipeline, because all the other projects of the Southern Corridor to transport natural gas assumed in whole or in part by the existing pipeline system in Turkey. Only Nabucco planned to build its own pipeline through the entire territory of Turkey and when it became clear that, in particular, high steel prices sharply increase the cost of the project, SOCAR, wittingly or unwittingly, has done a truly royal gift for the Nabucco by taking the entire area of Turkish by constructing TANAP, at the same time as if even at the same time as if equalizing the chances of all applicants. This, in particular, allowed to provide an updated version of the project in the future.

A possible withdrawal of the MOL from shareholders may become by prevailing tradition not a fatal stroke, but another element of shock therapy for Nabucco, after which the active phase will follow. Executive Director of one of the members of the Nabucco consortium- the Austrian OMV, has no doubt about the success of the project, even in case of withdrawal of MOL, because, he said, the legal preconditions for the construction of the pipeline along its entire length are provided. Gerhard Roiss meant that, despite the withdrawal of MOL from the shareholders, intergovernmental agreement on the Nabucco provides gas transits through all five countries, which signed it in 2009, including Hungary.

The project's positions once again may be strengthened, for example, by Bayerngas joining the shareholders, or the approval by the European Investment Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Finance Corporation of a decision on the allocation of financial package of 4 billion euros for construction after the results of financial audit of the project to determine credit risk. Another incentive for the Nabucco could also be Turkey's abandonment from its share of gas in the amount of 6 billion cubic meters in total volume of TANAP pipeline in favor of Europe.

By mid-May Shah Deniz consortium waits for formal proposals from projects on routes to deliver gas to Central Europe - Nabucco-West pipeline and SEEP (South East Europe Pipeline). "We are confident to submit the most convincing proposal: technically, legally and commercially," Nabucco Gas Pipeline International GmbH spokesman, Christian Dolezal, told Trend yesterday. According to Dolezal, the chances of Nabucco project to be implemented are the best among other Southern Gas Corridor projects. "Nabucco offers freedom of choice for all countries involved and has therefore the best chances to be realized," he said.

Official Baku, as well as the EU, supports all pipeline projects under the Southern Gas Corridor, and will advocate for the implementation of one, which, of course, would be the most economically desirable, and as much as possible, would satisfy the interests of all involved parties.