revista presei 14 iulie partea III-a

2009/07/14

Wall Street Journal:

Pipeline Project Emerges From Deep Freeze

Agreement Boosts Nabucco Natural-Gas Plan to Cut EU Reliance on Russia, but Supply Questions Remain

Leaders of five nations from Austria to Turkey signed a breakthrough agreement to transit natural gas through their countries in the European Union’s planned Nabucco pipeline project aimed at reducing the EU’s dependence on Russia.

Diplomats and energy-company officials involved with the project said Monday’s agreement, signed in the Turkish capital Ankara, has brought Nabucco out of a deep freeze, overcoming a long-running dispute over terms of transit through Turkey and showing the political will to build it.

Associated Press

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in front row at left, with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, at right, after Monday’s signing ceremony in the Turkish capital, Ankara, for the Nabucco gas pipeline agreement. Turkish ministers stand in the back row. Turkey and European Union members Austria, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria have agreed to route the planned pipeline across their territories.

“We have started to confound the skeptics, the unbelievers,” said European Commission President José Manuel Barroso. “Now that we have an agreement, I believe that this pipeline is inevitable rather than just probable.”

Under the agreement, Turkey and four EU countries — Austria, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria — agreed to allow the pipeline to transit their countries.

But large question marks remain over where the gas will come from to fill the pipe, energy analysts say. Nabucco is scheduled to start delivering eight billion cubic meters of gas a year in 2014, and a maximum of 31 billion cubic meters, or 5% of EU consumption, thereafter.

Recent problems including disruptions of Russian gas supplies to the EU via Ukraine and last August’s war in Georgia, a major transit country for Caspian oil and gas, have created more political will in the EU to build the pipeline first and then find the gas, said Jonathan Stern, director of gas research at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. But it isn’t clear how this can be done.

“When will we have contracts that say: Yes, the gas will come from these fields and will go to these buyers and will start on this date?” he said. Without those certainties, financing the project will prove difficult if not impossible, he added.

Russia, which was invited to Monday’s ceremony but didn’t attend, remains opposed to Nabucco, favoring its own new pipelines. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday visited the Georgian separatist territory of South Ossetia. The tiny province was the starting point for a massive Russian military intervention last summer that left bomb craters around a Western oil pipeline that passes through Georgia. Mr. Medvedev’s visit came in the wake of Russian military maneuvers just north of the Russian-Georgian border this month.

[nabucco pipeline]

Companies involved in the Nabucco consortium say there has been real progress in financing and developing gas sources over the past year. Earlier this year, the EU committed €200 million ($279 million) in seed money for the €7.9 billion pipeline project. Development banks such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development are also getting involved. “We are intending under the right circumstances to play a senior role,” said Riccardo Puliti, EBRD business-group energy director.

Also present at Monday’s signing were representatives from Iraq, Syria and Egypt, who said they are willing to supply Nabucco with gas. Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan made similar pledges Friday. “Iraq can provide around 15 billion cubic meters for EU countries via Turkish territory,” said Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the Associated Press reported.

But Nabucco’s consortium has been wrestling with the problem of how to find reliable supplies for the project for years. There is currently no means to deliver gas to Nabucco from Turkmenistan. Iran, a natural supplier, is politically problematic. Egypt has trouble supplying its domestic market.

“I think it will take the best part of 10 years to get pipeline connections and contracts to feed Nabucco,” said Mr. Stern.

Turkey, EU nations sign Nabucco gas pipeline deal

ANKARA, July 13 (RIA Novosti) — Five of the six parties to the Nabucco gas pipeline project signed on Monday an intergovernmental agreement on the transit of Caspian gas to Europe, skirting Russia.

The document was signed by Turkey, Austria, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary.

The sixth participant, Germany, did not sign the deal, since it is not a transit country.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and officials from about 20 countries attended the signing ceremony.

A spokesman for the European Commission’s energy policy earlier said the agreement was based on the principles “of mutual solidarity, mutual equality and interdependence.”

The project, estimated at $7.9 billion, is designed to pump Central Asian gas via Turkey to Austria and Germany through Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary. The pipeline is to go on stream in 2014.

Among the potential gas suppliers for the pipeline are Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Iraq.

The project will be a continuation of the existing Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum pipeline and is to transport 20 billion cubic meters of gas a year. Two-thirds of the pipe length will pass across Turkish territory.

Ankara believes that Nabucco will pave the way for the country’s future EU integration.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan invited Russia and Iran on Monday to join Nabucco.

The Nabucco pipeline is seen as a rival to the Moscow-backed South Stream project designed to annually pump 31 billion cubic meters of Central Asian and Russian gas to the Balkans and on to other European countries, the pipeline’s capacity could eventually reach 63 billion cubic meters.

Europe has expressed concern about its reliance on Russia, which meets a quarter of its gas needs. Calls for diversified supplies intensified following a bitter price dispute between Russia and Ukraine in early 2009, when Moscow cut off gas to Ukraine, affecting consumers across Europe.

Moscow has argued that South Stream and Nord Stream would reduce EU dependence on transit states like Ukraine and improve European energy security.

Gazprom cuts 2009 investment program to $23.5bln


MOSCOW, July 13 (RIA Novosti) – Gazprom has adjusted its investment program for this year to 775 billion rubles ($23.5 billion), Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Monday.

The energy giant’s 2009 investment program was earlier projected at 920 billion rubles ($27.8 billion).

The adjusted program was approved by the Russian Cabinet on Monday.

“Yes, it has been approved,” Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina said.

Meanwhile, Putin said the cuts would not affect the plans for the development of the Russian gas sector.

“Gazprom’s investment program should keep the most important and top priority projects, such as the development of new deposits on the Yamal Peninsula and Kamchatka, diversification of gas transportation routes and the development of capacities for liquefied natural gas production,” Putin said.

The Russian premier said that the energy giant would continue its program to build up the gas supply infrastructure in Russian regions, adding that a total of 18.5 billion rubles ($560 million) would be allocated for its implementation.

Putin also expressed confidence that demand for natural gas would grow over the next few months, despite a 20.8% drop in domestic gas output in the first half of 2009.

“We are confident that gas consumers both in Russia and abroad will start to increase their purchases in the coming months, and that demand for gas will not only grow back to the pre-crisis level, but will also substantially exceed it in the long term,” Putin said.

Gazprom’s 2009 adjusted investment program worth $23.5bln – Putin

MOSCOW, July 13 (RIA Novosti) – Gazprom’s adjusted investment program for 2009 is worth 775 billion rubles ($23.5 billion), Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Monday.

The energy giant’s 2009 investment program was earlier projected at 920 billion rubles ($27.8 billion).

However, the premier said plans for the development of the gas sector should be continued.

“Gazprom’s investment program should keep the most important and top priority projects, such as the development of new deposits on the Yamal Peninsula and Kamchatka, diversification of gas transportation routes and the development of capacities for liquefied natural gas production,” Putin said.

The Russian premier also said that the energy giant would continue its program to build up the gas supply infrastructure in Russian regions, adding that a total of 18.5 billion rubles ($560 million) would be allocated for its implementation.

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