July 4, 2009

Turkey OKs Nabucco pipeline transit

Turkey has OK'd a transit agreement for the Nabucco pipeline intended to reduce European dependence on Russian gas, the European Union said.

An intergovernmental pact to be signed in Ankara July 13 will expedite construction of the pipeline and bring Caspian and Middle East gas to Europe as early as 2014, E.U. officials said Friday.

Turkey had delayed the transit agreement while bargaining for a 15 percent share of the pipeline's capacity. The exact percentage Turkey would receive had yet to be finalized Friday, the EUobserver reported Saturday.

Nabucco should be seen as a matter of energy security for Turkey, not just the EU, since Turkey imports 65 percent of its gas consumption from Russia, said Alan Riley, an energy expert at City Law School of London.

Once signed, the pact would let companies bid for pipeline capacity and sign long-term contracts with the Nabucco consortium. Construction is to begin in 2011 if contracts can be finalized by next year, EU officials said.