The start of “Nabucco” project accomplishment was officially announced. An alternative pipeline that will supply gas to Europe round Russia will be the first step to reduction of energy and political influence of Moscow in Europe. Defeat of Russia and Georgian approach to Europe – these are the results of “Nabucco” Summit for Georgia.
On the 13th of July in Ankara the Heads of Governments of Turkey, Austria, Hungary and Energy Ministers of Bulgaria and Romania signed an intergovernmental agreement on “Nabucco” project accomplishment. Representatives of 30 states including the President of Georgia presented on the ceremony of the document signing.
Total cost of the project is 8 billion dollars. The pipeline will lie from Turkey-Georgia and Turkey-Iran borders along the territory of Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania to Austria. It’s supposed that this pipeline gas will flow through the territory of Azerbaijan and Georgia. Potential suppliers include Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, also Iran and Iraq. Although it’s still unreal to include Iran into the project due to objections of the USA.
The capacity of future pipeline is from 26 to 32 billion cubic meters a year. Construction is planned to start in 2011, “Nabucco” will be commissioned in 2011.
Finishing of the agreement was postponed several times due to the requirements of Turkey, that demanded 15% of gas to be transported. As a result, they managed to solve their disagreement, although, European sources don’t specify what was offered to Ankara in exchange of claims omitting.
“I’m convinced that the project will not only contribute into the closure of member-states, but also into security and flourishing of the whole region. Many people said that the construction of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline was a dream. However at the moment this pipeline operates perfectly”, - stated during the ceremony of agreement signing Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to his words other countries can also join “Nabucco” project, including Russia.
President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili who visited the ceremony called “Nabucco” project very important for the region as well as for the general European security.
“Today the struggle is led for Caspian gas, for huge stocks of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. We should consider all factors. The fact that we are here today, says that we are together not only in words”, - declared Saakashvili.
Georgian President also noted that the project accomplishment was intensified due to Russian aggression towards Georgia and “gas war” against Ukraine.
The signing of the agreement was welcomed by the EC and the USA representatives. Senator Lugar even called the EU and NATO to assure project’s security.
Russia, interests of which are directly touched by the project, treated this event calmly. “We are not jealous to “Nabucco” – stated president Medvedev, however added immediately that he didn’t realize which gas will fill the pipeline.
A few days before signing of agreement President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov partially answered the question of Medvedev. “Turkmenistan is for diversification of ways and participation in big international projects as “Nabucco”, - stated Berdymuhamedov. This statement was announced after the relations between Turkmenistan and Russian “Gazprom”got worse. Turkmenistan possesses one of the greatest gas stocks in the world, however its connection to “Nabucco” demands new pipeline along the bottom of Caspian Sea, the status of which pre-Caspian countries still can’t define. In addition such a pipeline will demand individual and significant investments.
From its side Russia still lays great hopes on “South Stream” pipeline, which is planned to lie along the Black Sea bottom to Bulgaria. This project is a rival of “Nabucco”. Moscow signed the agreement on project accomplishment with Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and Serbia. But Parliamentary elections in Bulgaria impeded the project. The Leader of the wining party, future Prime Minister Boyko Borisov declared that energy agreements with Russia will be suspended. Russian experts state with a share of certainty that “South Stream” can’t be accomplished.
Recently “Gazprom” has signed declaration on purchasing of 500 million cubic meters of gas with Azerbaijan. However, Azerbaijan claimed that Baku supports “Nabucco” and Azerbaijan has enough gas to supply it also through a new pipeline.
At the same time the issue of “Nabucco” financing is not yet solved. The European Commission promised to grant 350 million dollars. In its turn European Investment Bank declared about its readiness to finance up to the quarter of the construction cost (this is about 3 billion dollars). However, the sources to finance the rest cost of the project are still not determined.
Georgia lays its great hopes on the accomplishment of “Nabucco” project. Tbilisi states that Georgia will receive about a billion cubic meters of gas a year from a new gas pipeline on account of transit. However, as Georgian politicians and experts state for Georgia the main fact is that together with “Nabucco” project accomplishment Europe will be really interested in the security of Georgia as a vitally important transport corridor. And this means that the USA, NATO and EU will provide Georgia with serious support in security strengthening and will contribute into the intensification of Euro-Atlantic integration of the country.
However risks, referred to the project accomplishment, reminded about them already on the 13th of July – in the day of agreement signing. This day Dmitry Medvedev paid an unexpected visit to Tskhinvali – the capital of separatist region, the independence of which Russia acknowledged after the war in August. The President of Georgia stated that day that Russian President in purpose confined his visit to the signing of “Nabucco” agreement. Experts in Georgia consider that this way Russian leader demonstrated the vulnerability of projects with Georgian participation. The prospect to lose the monopoly on sales to Europe of Central Asian gas for Russia is very painful and Moscow is able to make radical moves to prevent the project.
Will Russia succeed? It will depend only on political will of Europe. Today, after winter gas crises and Russian-Georgian war, the EU realizes its vulnerability much better than at least a year ago. Another thing, whether European countries are able to put certain efforts to guarantee their own security. Up to now, the EU countries haven’t yet managed to demonstrate rigid and coordinated security policy.