EU commissioner gives thumbs up to funding Nabucco

New EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger called the Nabucco natural gas pipeline project “especially worthy of financial support” today (Thurs).He claimed it would significantly reduce Europe’s energy dependence on one supplier during presentation of the European Commission’s (EC) financial assistance for 31 natural gas and 12 electricity projects.Oettinger noted that Nabucco, in which Austrian oil and gas producer OMV is playing a leading role, would result in import of natural gas from the Caspian Sea region, not from Russia, the opposite of the results of the North Stream and South Stream natural gas pipeline projects.The German conservative added there would soon be an international conference on Nabucco and a final decision on it would be made this year. The natural gas crisis, he said, had shown there had been excessive dependence on one supplier.Oettinger said the EC would contribute 200 million Euros to Nabucco. The EC would also contribute a total of 1.575 million Euros to two OMV projects, 4.8 million to the Trans-Austria-Gas Pipeline (TAG) and 13 million to an electricity link between Vienna and Gyor, Hungary, being undertaken by Austrian energy provider Verbund.Nabucco project manager Reinhard Mitschek said last October that the first gas – probably from Iraq – would flow through the pipeline in five years. “We believe that we will start up in 2014 and that gas from Iraq be ready,” he said.He added that supply was also expected to come online from Azerbaijan the following year or in 2016 and that 8.0 billion cubic metres of gas were expected to be pumped from Kurdistan in the following year.Up to 31 billion cubic metres of gas is expected to be pumped through the pipeline eventually.He confirmed the original estimate of 7.9 billion Euros as the cost of the project. Mitschek said 100 to 150 million Euros would be needed to start construction in 2011.