ANKARA (AFP), Jul. 3, 2009
Turkish officials confirmed Friday that a key intergovernmental agreement on the European Union's Nabucco gas pipeline will be signed July 13 in Ankara.
"I can confirm that we have sent invitations to the related parties for the signing of the agreement on July 13 in Ankara," Nabi Avci, an adviser to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told AFP.
A government official said Erdogan was expected to host the ceremony.
Earlier, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said that "the technical negotiations have come to an end," but would not give a date for the signing of the accord.
The 3,300-kilometer Nabucco pipeline is due to bring gas from the Caspian Sea to Austria via Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, while bypassing Russia, in a bid to reduce Europe's energy dependence on Moscow.
The project, planned to become operational in 2014, will cost an estimated EUR7.9 billion.
It is in direct competition with Russia's South Stream project, developed by Russia's gas giant OAO Gazprom and Italy's Eni SpA, which will channel Russian gas through Bulgaria to Western Europe under the Black Sea.
Critics have questioned the adequacy of gas sources for Nabucco, and the project was cast into further doubt in May when key gas suppliers Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan held off their support at a meeting in Prague.
Copyright (c) 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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