ISTANBUL (Hurriyet)–The United States on Friday signaled for the first time that Nabucco is its preferred planned natural gas pipeline among the project’s other rivals.
“We made it clear that we support the Southern Corridor. We also made it clear that the Nabucco pipeline is preferable strategically and politically. It will be hard to answer whether these projects will be complementary or competitive since the initial gas is coming from the Caspian,” Richard Morningstar, special envoy of the United States Secretary of State for Eurasian Energy, told a small of journalists in Istanbul.
The U.S. has been a strong supporter of the Nabucco pipeline project, planned to be built from Turkey to Austria and to transport 31 billion cubic meters of natural gas.
But there are some other projects such as Interconnector Turkey Greece Italy, or ITGI, and Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, or TAP. The ITGI is planned with a capacity of 8 billion cubic meters and TAP with 10 billion cubic meters. The U.S. had until Friday declined to voice its preference among the projects.
The resources in Central Asia and the Middle East are limited but with the development of the second phase in the Shah Deniz field in Azerbaijan, and with Iraq’s participation, the gas supplies could increase dramatically, Morningstar added on the sidelines of the Black Sea Energy and Economic Forum in Istanbul.
The decision, however, of giving the gas to a pipeline will be a commercial one and will be made by the Shah Deniz consortium, he said. Morningstar ruled out the possibility of Iranian gas supplies for Nabucco or any other Western-backed pipeline projects.
“For me, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan project was a dream. Now Nabucco is a dream. Many countries are involved in this project. … We want to be a helpful bystander,” Morningstar said when asked about the difference between the BTC and Nabucco pipelines.
He rejected the notion that there was a contradiction between the Turkish government’s decisions to become involved in both the Nabucco pipeline project and South Stream. The U.S. has no concerns regarding the increased energy cooperation between Turkey and Russia, he also added.
Within energy pipeline diplomacy, there is one country that has been left out in the cold: Armenia. Due to an illegal blockade imposed by its neighbors, Turkey and Azerbaijan, Armenia has been excluded from the major energy projects in the region.
“I have fond feelings regarding Armenia. That is a shame that Armenia is not part of these projects,” Morningstar said. “If somehow an agreement is reached, Armenia can become a full participant in the region. And that is in everybody’s interest.”
It will take time, but eventually Armenia will participate in all regional energy and economic projects, Morningstar said when asked about whether there is a specific project that the U.S. wants Armenia to become involved in.