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From Caspian Sea to Europe and without Russia please. Nabucco pipeline project was supposed to become Russian gas alternative for Europeans. Started in 2002, the construction was due to begin in 2011. It is now postponed to 2014.

By Hrant Mikaelian

Within the project framework, a 4000-kilometer gas main should be built, starting in Turkmenistan and passing through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey to Central European countries, first of all, Germany and Austria, the biggest consumers of Russian gas.

Nabucco is supported by the United States and Europe, however, not by Russia, whereas concurrent project South Stream (trans-Black Sea gas pipeline that carries natural gas from Russia and Central Asia to Europe) is also supported by Italy.

Moscow strongly opposes the construction of Nabucco, because it will decrease Russian’s gas exportations and also questions Gazprom’s monopoly, probably meaning that European consumers will pay less.

Nabucco © Wikimedia Commons

Armenia is against

On a unofficial level, Armenia is also opposed to the Nabucco construction – for its own reasons: Azerbaijan is proposed to be a starting point for the gas sources, so the pipeline route is planned to pass through Georgia and Turkey.

Although Georgian route is more expensive, longer and less safe than the one passing through Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey will choose any transit country except Armenia. Baku and Ankara are having political tensions with Armenia, concerning the recognition of Armenian genocide and Karabah frozen conflict.

But ejecting Armenia from the pipeline route might deepen the country’s isolation. European union strongly supports the opening of Armenian-Turkish border, which could help Armenia to get out of isolation, but Turkey’s Prime minister Erdogan recently declared he “won’t trait his Azerbaijani brothers”.

The end of Nabucco?

According to Richard Giragosian, expert and head of the think-tank “Regional Studies Center”, if the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan -the second longest oil pipeline in the former Soviet Union from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea- was the “project of the century” in the nineties, where the political and geopolitical reasons outweighted commercial limitations, Nabucco came is in a completely different context. “This project is the test of political will and we don’t see the same level of support.” If the border with Turkey doesn’t open, Armenia will be “excluded from the regional energy development programs and plans”. Only the opening of Armenian-Turkish border would allow Armenia to be able to overcome isolation. “So Armenia could join Nabucco, if Armenian-Turkish border would open – this act would be a part of the part of Armenian-Turkish normalisation process, so it’s still quite possible. But everything also depends on Russia.

Nabucco, he adds, “which was very popular idea in Europe because it might allow to skip Russian gas monopoly, see its chances to be built decreasing”.


-pipeline length should consist 4,042 km and discharge about 31 bln. cub. m. (6% of Europe’s overall gas consumption).

-The source should be Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, or Iraq – for political reasons these candidates are more preferable, but Iran also could be a very important partner

-Nabucco’s total budget was estimated to consist €7.9 bln but by the latest calculations it is not less than €14bn.

-70 percent of construction expenses will be covered by financial institutions, and members of the consortium will cover the remaining 30 percent.

-The European Union has already loaned 200 million Euros to the project