Turkey and EU sign Nabucco gas pipeline deal to end reliance on Russia

July 13, 2009

(ChattahBox) — Officials from six countries gathered Monday in Turkey and signed a deal to build a U.S.-backed pipeline carrying gas from Central Asia to Western Europe.  The proposed pipeline would end reliance on Russia’s gas supplies to Europe. Russia provides over a quarter of Europe’s gas currently. Earlier this year Russia stopped all gas supplies to Ukraine and thereby Europe after  talks collapsed to end a dispute over unpaid bills and prices.

The Nabucco pipeline would run from Turkey’s eastern border, through Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, to a key gas terminal in Baumgarten, Austria.Germany is also a partner in the deal, which is being signed in the Turkish capital, Ankara. Construction of the proposed 2,050 mile pipeline would start in 2011 with the goal of being online in 2014, at a cost of $10.26 billion.

Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Turkmenistan are already onboard to supply gas for the Nabucco pipeline, raising hopes of securing enough suppliers to make the pipeline viable. Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan have not yet confirmed participation.  Turkey has not ruled out Iran and Russia as future suppliers, but but U.S. says it will block Iranian participation until its relations improve with the West. To challenge the Nabucco proposal, Russia has proposed a competing natural gas pipeline to southeastern Europe. The South Stream pipeline would pass under the Black Sea and connect with Bulgaria. Russia and Italy would each control half of that pipeline.

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