Nabucco going down the drain?

The Chief Executive Officer of the German RWT company Stefan Yudish has told the Berlin Forum devoted to the problem besetting the construction of the Nabucco pipeline that the project is at a standstill. Nabucco was conceived to deliver gas from the Caspian region to Europe, bypassing Russia and was also intended to rival the Russian South Stream project. Besides the RWT company the Berlin Forum was attended by the EU countries, the main brain behind the Nabucco project.

The realization of the Nabucco project hangs in the air due to the inability to reach agreement with potential suppliers of gas. However, participants in the project – the Austrian OMV, the Hungarian MOL, the Bulgarian Bulgargas, the Romanian Transgaz, the Turkish Botas and the German RWT periodically try to make a bad situation look good, claiming that their seriously ailing child has good prospects. Perhaps keeping up pretenses have already bored the comrades to death, and Mr. Yudish could no longer live the lie at the Berlin Forum. He said that his company which has invested about 20 million Euros in the Nabucco project wants a speedy start of construction work.

Yury Lipatov, chairman of the State Duma’s nergy committee recently told the VOR that in recent times, the president of the EU Commission Jose Manuel Barroso stepped up diplomatic efforts in the Caspian region, saying that it was quite in line with the principles of market economy, but that the statements by some participants at the Berlin Form, including the EU commissioner for energy Gunter Ettinger were, to put it mildly, strange.

According to Yugen Homan, State-secretary in the German Ministry of economy and new technology, Moscow doesn’t realize that opposing the construction of the Nabucco pipeline is counterproductive. His statement was almost an ultimatum.

“I will support the widening of cooperation with Russia if it acknowledges that gas from the Caspian region will be supplied to Europe directly, but my trust will be shaken if Russia continues the attempts to block the pumping of gas from the Caspian to Europe, unless through Russia”, Homan said.

Mr. Homan implied the competition between Nabucco and the Russian gas giant Gazprom. Competition is competition, but Russia is being told to halt its project to enable a rival to overtake it, which is against the well known principles of market economy.

It may seem an exaggeration, but the impression has been created that the Nabucco project is in its death agony. The Nabucco problem of lack of resources remains as it did several years back, and it is loosing out in a free competition with its Russian rival and members of the consortium pushing the project are resorting to the use of their last trump card-politics. It is high time for Europeans to free themselves of the gas phobia relative to Russia and to look the facts in the face, advises Valery Nesterov, analyst of “Troika Dialog” company.

The latest events in the Middle East, North Africa and Japan demand a reexamination of the concept of the European energy supply, possibly in favour of Russian energy. Most importantly, officials in Brussels, who shout from rooftops for free competition should practice what they preach. Market by command has no prospect, Nesterov says.

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