Key Turkish Committee Submits Nabucco Deal for Parliamentary Ratification

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a recent summit on Nabucco

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a recent summit on Nabucco

ANKARA (Today’s Zaman)–A key Turkish Parliamentary Committee has unanimously agreed to submit an agreement over the Nabucco Pipeline project to the full parliament for ratification, despite expressing misgivings over uncertainties surrounding the financing of the 8 billion euro pipeline, which will transport Caspian natural gas reserves to Central and Eastern European markets.

The report, released on Monday by the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, issued a warning over “the fact there are uncertainties concerning those countries that will provide financial backing for the project poses a serious risk.”

Committee members also expressed concerns about the role of Azerbaijan, underlining that the implementation of the project primarily hinges on the participation of Azerbaijan. “The support of Azerbaijan will play a key role [in the Nabucco project],” the report said.

During committee deliberations, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz argued that he is quite optimistic about the possibility that Turkey will ink an agreement with Azerbaijan in the near future, saying both countries support each other technically, politically and in bilateral relations. “Baku can provide 7 to 8 billion cubic meters of natural gas for the Nabucco pipeline,” he said, adding that the start-up capacity for the construction of the pipeline is approximately the same amount. “I mean with 8 billion cubic meters of gas, we can start the project; the rest of the countries will follow,” Yildiz added.

The committee report acknowledged, however, natural gas consumer countries have achieved a relatively advantageous position compared to producing countries due to the global economic crisis and noted the dynamic gas industry may provide new resources to finance the project.

The deputies also expressed concern over Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s remarks on Nabucco. Putin said the project runs counter to the South Stream project, which would transport Russian natural gas through the Black Sea to Bulgaria and further on to Italy and Austria. The Turkish energy minister disagreed, however, saying in the medium and long term the pipelines will complement each other. He also underlined that Turkey could develop projects that will enable it to work with both the United States and Russia at the same time.

Yildiz further argued that the realization of Nabucco may take eight to 10 years but stressed it will happen eventually. “We saw similar concerns with the BTC [Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan] pipeline. Some said it was a mirage at the time. But we are at very positive stage now,” he said. The BTC pipeline carries Azerbaijani oil from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean.

The government says the Nabucco pipeline will create employment opportunities in Turkey as two-thirds of the 3,300-kilometer-long pipeline will be constructed in Turkey. Ankara also sees the pipeline project as strengthening its European Union bid.

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