Nabucco Gas Pipeline Failure Hits Romania, Bulgaria


Marian Chiriac | Bucharest
July 1, 2013
Romania and Bulgaria will be strongly affected by the decision last week by the consortium developing Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz gas field not to select Nabucco West as the pipeline route to transport Azerbaijani gas to Europe, while Greece and Albania will be among the biggest winners, analysts said.

Nabucco West was the remnant of an ambitious EU plan to pump gas about 4,000 kilometres from Azerbaijan to Austria, avoiding Russian territory. Around 1,300 kilometres of the pipeline were supposed to be laid [in] Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary before reaching Austria.

The transit route chosen by the Shah Deniz consortium, the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, TAP, offers a shorter route from the Turkish-Greek border across Greece and Albania and onwards under the Adriatic Sea to southern Italy, with fewer transit countries and fewer partners to complicate the process.

The decision is likely to hit Bucharest and Sofia, experts predicted.

“Romania stands to lose a lot from this decision, starting with the transport tariffs which could have been gained, to the ten years of investment in this project,” said journalist Cristian Pantazi, although he could not quantify the potential losses.

A large part of the Nabucco pipeline would have been laid on Romanian territory – some 475 kilometres.

Bulgaria, which is almost 100 per cent dependent on Russian gas imports, will be affected even more seriously, analysts said.

“Giving up Nabucco West would deprive Bulgaria of the opportunity to gain energy independence,” said Alex Alexiev of the Centre for Balkan and Black Sea Studies, in an interview for Focus News Agency.

Alexiev said that Bulgaria is now likely to reconsider its decision to ban controversial gas shale exploration.

Romania will follow that trend, experts suggested.

“Bucharest has now the chance to focus on its own resources – on gas and crude oil in the Black Sea and on the shale gas so demonized by ‘ecologists’. And finally Romania must expand its liquid gas capacities at [its harbour in] Constanta,” said Cristian Campeanu from the daily Romania Libera.

The Nabucco project began ten years ago with political support from the European Union, to counteract the bloc’s dependency on gas imports from Russia, which has been accused of using its energy supplies to gain political advantage.

It was hope that the pipeline would pump 31 billion cubic metres of gas per year by 2020, approximately five to 10 percent of the projected total gas consumption in the EU by that time.

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