Friday, May 15, 2009

Nabucco deal to be signed in Ankara on June 25

ANKARA - The European Union and Turkey have struck a ground-breaking gas pipeline deal, according to senior EU officials.
The agreement, to be signed in Ankara on June25, represents a major boost to the EU's proposed Nabucco pipeline project, which is to transport natural gas to Europe from central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East.
"This is a complete breakthrough," said a senior EU official involved in the tough negotiations with Turkey. "The Turks have accepted our terms. There is no conditionality."
The €9 billion Nabucco project is at the center of a contest pitting Russia against the EU and involving Turkey, Germany, Austria, Azerbaijan and the authoritarian regimes of central Asia in the effort to secure Europe's gas needs while curbing the hold Moscow and the gas monopoly Gazprom have over the supply lines. Nabucco, to stretch more than 2,000 miles from Turkey's eastern border to Europe's main gas hub outside Vienna, would be the main route for pumping gas to Europe not controlled by Gazprom.
The plan to build Nabucco faltered over a deadlock between the EU and Turkey over the pipeline transit agreement. More than half the pipeline is to be located in Turkey, making it the gatekeeper of Europe's energy supplies.
Ankara has been driving a hard bargain, insisting on collecting a "tax" on the gas being pumped and demanding 15 percent of the transit gas at discounted prices. This, say EU officials and the six-company consortium that is to build and run the pipeline, would render Nabucco financially unviable.
The stalemate was broken at a summit in Prague on May 8 between the EU and the countries involved. "The 15 percent demand has gone," Andris Piebalgs, the EU commissioner for energy, told the Guardian. "We've agreed on cost-based transit. We're very close to a conclusion."

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