The Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orbán reported that, Hungarian company MOL withdraws from the consortium on NABUCCO gas pipeline construction. According to the estimations of the experts, withdrawal from NABUSSO proves the fact that Hungary is more involved with Russian project “South Stream”. Yet in 2009 ex Prime Minister of Hungary Gyurcsány Ferenc said that Hungary should stand up for the construction of the both pipelines – NABUCCO and “South Stream” - with all its might. However as we see they didn’t manage to preserve this line: current Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orbán has made the priority not policy but “simple economic solutions”. “Through the territory of Hungary it is planned to pipe one of the branches of “South Stream” gas pipeline, which directly – along the bottom of the Black Sea should connect Russia with the EU, - comments on the situation “Deutsche Welle”. – This project, which is lobbied by Gazprom, is considered to be the rival of NABUCCO. That is why in Budapest they could consider that it’s more beneficial to promote cooperation with Russia than force the construction of NABUCCO ". But earlier also the Prime Minister of Bulgaria Boyko Borisov during the meeting with the President of the Council of Europe Herman van Rompuy declared that “Bulgaria has no possibility to accomplish NABUCCO project”, although recently Sophia have given this project the status of state priority.
NABUCCO project was initially too politicized. In course of time it turned into a peculiar spit on which in the region of Caucasus and Near East were put various geopolitical decisions, although by this acute still remains to be the issue of gas suppliers search. For the last decade the members of consortium on NABUCCO construction didn’t manage due to several reasons to agree finally either with Azerbaijan or with Turkmenistan, not even talking about Iraq, Iran and Kazakhstan. Nevertheless Brussels doesn’t lose hope. The European Commission representative Marlene Holzner stated that the main initiative within NABUCCO accomplishment now rest in the arms of Azerbaijan. According to her “within the following few months Baku shall make a decision, to which European gas pipeline to supply gas” and that “at the moment the talks go on”.
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Azerbaijan has already replied on this passage of Holzner. The Head of Public Political Department of the Administration of the President of Azerbaijan Ali Gisanov during the interview for Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet stated: “Gas pipeline project NABUCCO is the project of the European Union and its fate lies in the EU hands. This project is an alternative to Russian gas supplies to Europe and Azerbaijan shall be ready to get down to its accomplishment if it is sure that Turkmenistan supplies gas for NABUCCO". This means that, first of all Baku sincerely indicates that it doesn’t possess urgent resources to fill the pipeline with has, although last October NABUCCO consortium applied for the participation in tender on transportation of gas from Azerbaijani field Shakh Deniz.. As it turned out, Azerbaijan is able to provide for pumping into Europe only 10 billion cubic meters of gas annually when NABUCCO demands three times bigger quantity. That is to say Baku, actively developing an intrigue, now doesn’t consider the project as profitable. Secondly, Baku in the situation in Caucasus as well as in Near East wisely refrains from an independent initiative of joining this project.
And even more. As known, recently Turkey has signed with Azerbaijan a treaty on construction of Trans-Adriatic gas pipeline (TANAP), anticipating gas supply from Azerbaijan through Turkey to Europe. As soon as the idea of TANAP construction was announced with initial capacity of 16 billion cubic meters annually from western border of Azerbaijan to eastern border of Turkey and from there to Europe, many people started saying that TANAP is the one to become a real alternative to the “South Stream”. However something unclear started happening with TANAP. According to the initial plan, the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCA) had to gain 80% in this enterprise, and two Turkish state companies - BOTAŞ (Oil Pipeline Corporation) and TRAO (Turkish Oil Company) – 10% each. Then with unclear reasons Ankara started striving not only the equal share with SACO in this project but also the possibility to control gas supplies to its territory. Having not achieved the desired goal, the Ministry of Finance of Turkey refused the TANAP project in tax regime relaxation. As a result as the representative of the EU in Baku Roland Kobia declared, TANAP project is rather the idea than a real project. Curiously is that Turkish Finance Ministry decided to set a condition to increase the income tax from each oil barrel, pumped along the oil pipeline Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, which is considered as “blood oil artery” connecting “brother” relations of Turkey and Azerbaijan.
Now in Europe they actively discuss the idea of probability of NABUCCO-West project accomplishment. As the Head of Austrian group of companies OMV Gerhard Roiss declared, the consortium shall have an option to orient not only at the Caspian Sea, but also the Black Sea. According to him, such project shall be much cheaper as “discovered gas deposits in the Black Sea have changed the situation”. Indeed, now they write much that the shelf of the Black Sea contains several hundred thousand tons of oil and gas. However one part of the experts considers that development of this shelf is related with complicated economic and legal troubles. Another part in general doubts the factor of existence of promising fields there.
Anyway, Turkey has found itself in quite a special situation having faced the situation of delay or generally refusal of the plans to use the “South Corridor” for supplies of natural gas from the Caspian region through its territory to Europe round about Russia. Unexpectedly for Ankara the Minister of Economy of Austria Reinhold Mitterlehner reported that “Europe doesn’t know how significant shall be energy demands of Turkey and how much natural gas it shall be able to supply further to Europe by transit from Pre-Caspian region”. This forced The Minister of Energy and Natural Resources of Turkey Taner Yildiz to claim that the participation of Turkey in NABUCCO gas project or NABUCCO-West “is extremely important and demanded”, and “Turkey shall proceed supporting the accomplishment of this project with any format of its performance”. This is the situation, when they say “No birds in hands or in bushes”. Moreover Ankara is not sure that Baku further shall preserve agreements on selling it a certain scope of gas with the price 50% lower than the world one.
As for the gas pipeline South Stream, then already a detailed plan has been approved, that shall allow starting works not in 2013, as it was supposed earlier but already in December 2012. According to the Head of Gazprom Alexey Miller, there is everything necessary for this already:
international legal basis, involvement of all participants of the project in Europe, financial resources and unique experience of accomplishment of big sea gas transporting projects. Thus Moscow has gained a beneficial non-military lever, which it can use to attract geopolitical balance of forces at Near East to its side. In any case, if NABUCCO – in each of its version – shall be constructed some day, than it shall happen much later than the construction of the South Stream, and only in case if Brussels finds the way to fill the pipeline.
Translated by EuroDialogueXXI from REGNUM