Turkey, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania signed an intergovernmental agreement on the Nabucco Pipeline Project in Ankara on Monday, coming a step closer to realizing a project that still wants for big suppliers.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Hungarian Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann, Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev, Romanian Prime Minister Emil Boc signed the agreement on the Nabucco project which will carry Caspian and Central Asian natural gas to Austria in Europe to reduce the EU dependence on Russian gas.
Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yildiz denied Sunday reports that said that Turkey gave up its right to receive 15 percent of the natural gas supplied via the Nabucco pipeline, saying "Turkey would have a right to take a share from 15 billion cubic metres, or half of the total 31 billion cubic metre gas flowing through the pipeline."
Following the signature ceremony, President of the EU Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, and heads of government of the five signatory countries issued a joint declaration.
The agreement which is regarded as a turning point in the Nabucco project aims at facilitating and speeding up the construction of the pipeline through the advantages of an international agreement and laying down principles for issues like taxation that will apply during the management of the pipeline.
The Nabucco Summit, held on the occasion of the intergovernmental agreement, brought together leaders of regional countries including, President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of Iraq and officials and representatives from the U.S., Europe and international organizations.
All signatory countries will sign a Project Support Agreement with the Nabucco International Company (NIC) in the following phase. The content of the agreement which will lay down detailed guidelines for the project will be drafted through multilateral talks between parties and be signed in 6 months' time.
The Nabucco project represents a new gas pipeline connecting the Caspian region, Middle East and Egypt via Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary with Austria and further on with the Central and Western European gas markets.
Nabucco got a boost on Friday when Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov signalled his nation's willingness to get involved.
Construction of the 3,300-km pipeline is scheduled to start in 2011 and first deliveries are expected in 2014. The project is expected to cost around 7.9 billion Euros. The annual capacity is expected to rise to 31 billion cubic metres in the coming years.
The project has six share-holders: BOTAS (Turkey), Bulgargaz (Bulgaria), Transgaz (Romania), MOL (Hungary), OMV (Austria) and RWE (Germany).