Turkey Opposes GDF in Nabucco Due to French Genocide Bill

Turkey opposes Gaz de France's (1020848.FR) participation in the Nabucco gas project because of France's position on the Armenian genocide, according to an unnamed senior energy official, the Ihlas News Agency, or IHA, reported Wednesday.

"How can we get Gaz de France in the project (because of) France's unacceptable position on the Armenian genocide claims," the official said.

The official's comments, reiterating Turkey's previously expressed opposition, follow recent statements by Romania's president and Hungarian energy firm MOL Nyrt.(MGYOG) supporting GDF's involvement in the project.

France passed a bill in 2006, making it a crime to deny that mass killings of Armenians under Ottoman rule during World War I was a genocide, which Turkey vehemently opposes.

The estimated $7-billion Nabucco project is a proposed 3,300-kilometer pipeline designed to carry Caspian gas to Central Europe via Turkey and the Balkans and which is aimed at reducing Europe's dependence on Russian gas.

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 partners for the project are Austria's OMV AG (OMV.VI), Hungary's MOL, Romania's Transgaz, Bulgargaz of Bulgaria and Turkey's Botas. Meanwhile, German utility RWE AG (RWE.XE) was confirmed Tuesday as the sixth partner of the project.

Romanian President Traian Basescu said Monday that Gaz de France would join the project as an associate.

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