Turkey Hopes to Sign Nabucco Pipeline Deal by June 2009

Turkey has sent a letter to EU countries which are part of the Nabucco gas pipeline project and now expects their answers. "If they sent the answers by the end of April, we will sign deals by June," Turkey's energy minister said.

"We expect the European Union to send us the text that EU countries agreed on," Hilmi Guler told reporters.

"We sent them (EU countries) the intergovernmental agreement and host government agreement. They sent their responses. However, we have discussed again and again things that we already agreed on. I sent a letter to avoid that. What I said was (just sign and send us, from one point of view, something that you agreed on)," Guler said.

Turkish government wants to start the project, which would carry gas to European markets from fields in the Caucasus and Central Asia, as soon as possible, Guler said.

The EU currently relies heavily on Russian natural gas carried through Ukrainian pipelines. Eighty percent of gas bound for Europe travels via Ukraine.

Nabucco is planned to be an alternative route to transport gas from Turkey to Austria through Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary. It is also an alternative source to the Russian supply. The pipeline would carry gas from mainly Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz fields, as well as Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Iran. Construction of theE3,300-km pipeline is scheduled to start in 2011 and first deliveries are expected in 2014. The project is expected to cost around 7.9bn euros.
Turkey wants 15 percent share from natural gas to be carried through the Nabucco pipeline.

Guler said Turkey asks 15 percent for its own use, not to sell it. 

Copyright 2009 BBC Monitoring