RWE 6th Partner in Nabucco Gas Pipeline Project

German utility RWE AG (RWE.XE) is the sixth partner in the $7.4 billion Nabucco gas pipeline project, Nabucco Gas Pipeline International GmbH said late Tuesday.

The proposed 3,300 kilometer pipeline will transport gas from the Middle East and Central Asia to Europe, with Turkey providing the key gateway through which the pipeline will move. The European Union hopes the pipeline will reduce Europe's dependency on Russian oil.

Construction is scheduled to begin in 2009, with the pipeline expected to become operational in 2013. Previously, the participating companies said the pipeline would become operational in 2012.

The five other partners for the project are Austria's OMV AG (OMV.VI), Hungary's MOL (MOL.BU), Romania's Transgaz, Bulgargaz of Bulgaria and Turkey's Botas.

Raiffeisen Centrobank analyst Philipp Kladek told Dow Jones Newswires six partners should be enough to finance the project. "Future participants should be suppliers," Kladek said. He said the entry of state-owned Azerbaijan natural gas company Socar would be a good move.

Kladek also said if Gaz de France (1020848.FR) were to participate, as reported in Romanian press Tuesday, it would likely be only be as a consumer. He said Gaz de France has only been mentioned in the context of a potential associated partner.

While RWE's participation was confirmed Tuesday, Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Guler said last week that RWE was chosen as the sixth partner.

RWE will provide financing and various technical support for Nabucco.

Copyright (c) 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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