Bulgarian parliament backs Nabucco gas pipeline
(SOFIA) - Bulgaria's parliament on Tuesday formally backed an agreement to support the 4,000-km (2,500-mile) Nabucco pipeline project to bring Caspian gas to Europe, its press office said.
The 7.9-billion euro ($10 billion) project is to be built by a consortium of Austria's OMV, Germany's RWE, Hungary's MOL, Romania's Transgaz, Bulgaria's Bulgargaz and Turkey's Botas.
It seeks to wean Europe from its dependency on Russian gas deliveries but has recently hit a snag.
Initial plans set the start of construction for 2013 with the first shipments of Caspian gas to Austria via Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary in 2017.
But the project, which faces stiff competition from rival pipelines including Russia's South Stream, has been seriously sidetracked by an inability to guarantee its funding and future supplies of natural gas.
RWE also said earlier in May it might abandon the project, a month after MOL also hinted it wanted to sell its share in the Nabucco consortium.
Bulgaria also agreed in late February to speed up construction of its stretch of Russia's Gazprom and Italy's ENI South Stream project aimed to carry an annual 63 billion cubic metres of Russian gas under the Black Sea to Europe by 2015, bypassing row-prone Ukraine.
The small Balkan country has used its support for the deal as a bargaining chip for negotiating direct gas supply contracts and lower prices from Gazprom and achieved an 11.1 percent discount as of April 1.
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