With enough gas supply on hand, countdown to groundbreaking of Nabucco pipeline begins
By brokering a number of key deals with natural gas supplier countries, including Azerbaijan, Turkey has ensured enough gas supply to start the construction work for the Nabucco project, a 3,000 km-long natural gas pipeline set to transport Caspian natural gas to Europe via Turkey, making the country an important natural gas transit country. In June, Turkey and Azerbaijan signed a deal to ship 11 billion cubic meters of Azeri gas per year to Turkey. The agreement covers gas supplies from Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz 1 and 2 developments in the southwest Caspian Sea. Shipments would start in 2017, and some of the gas could also be pumped into the Nabucco pipeline. Thanks to Turkey's intensified efforts, now two major Central Asian natural gas suppliers, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, and the northern Iraqi regional administration stand ready to provide natural gas to Nabucco. During a recent visit to Turkey, Massoud Barzani, the head of the regional administration, offered Ankara to import natural gas from northern Iraq at $150 per thousand cubic meters, well below the price that Turkey pays for Azeri and Russian natural gas. In related news, Ankara will see the signing of a series of agreements on Nabucco in the days to come. One of them concerns the transportation of natural gas from the Shah Deniz gas field, the largest natural gas field in Azerbaijan, situated in the South Caspian Sea, off the coast of Azerbaijan, to Europe. Covering Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria, Nabucco is projected to be operational in 2014 and to start working at full capacity in 2018. Speaking to The Wall Street Journal early this year, Reinhard Mitschek, the managing director of the Nabucco consortium, said 2010 could be the year of Nabucco, despite concerns about fulfilling the pipeline's needs. Developments since then confirmed Mitschek's expectations, with a number of key supplier countries agreeing to provide natural gas to the pipeline. Later Nabucco won agreements from Iraq for gas supplies, and Mitzchek said at the time that he expects Azerbaijan to follow suit. The investment cost for the project is $11 billion. With the completion of Nabucco, Turkey, where 8 percent of world petroleum circulation takes place, will also emerge as a key player for the energy security of the European Union, which hopes to use Nabucco to break the Russian stranglehold on the European energy sector. In recent years, Turkey has added the Blue Stream, Samsun-Ceyhan, Turkey-Greece-Italy, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and Nabucco natural gas pipelines to the energy corridor it opened with the Kirkuk-Yumurtalik and Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan petroleum pipelines.