Nabucco gas line chief sees policy role

Doris Leblond
OGJ Correspondent

PARIS, Nov. 29 -- The coordinator for the Nabucco gas pipeline project between Azerbaijan and Europe, former Dutch Foreign Minister Jozias Van Aartsen, seeks to make Nabucco the core of a European Union energy policy.

The 1,200 km Nabucco line would bring gas from Azerbaijan across Turkey to Austria passing through Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania (OGJ Online, Sept. 20, 2007). Van Aartsen said the project is "feasible and doable" and a priority for the countries involved.

At the Nov. 8 Energy Charter Conference in Vienna, Van Aartsen said he had been asked as coordinator to "focus on Nabucco, the leading option to connect the EU to the Caspian Sea, and, if possible, to bundle in other lines."

These other lines were numerous, including the South Stream Project to be built by Gazprom and ENI across the Black Sea to southeastern Europe and the White Stream project between Georgia and Romania and including Ukraine. "We support these," Van Aartsen said. But the development of these options "crucially" depends on the attitude of Turkey, which is still not clear, he said.

Van Aartsen sees the web of gas lines as a means of promoting an energy community that would shift energy security perspectives from national to the European level.

He insisted, "We cannot treat our neighbors and partners as mere hosts to the development of pipelines for the prosperity of the European Union."

The EU has promoted the energy community as "a mechanism for transit countries to achieve their energy security objectives," he said, adding that he hoped Turkey, Ukraine, and Moldavia would be able to join in 2008. He has other states in view, especially in the Caucasus.

"I want to build a mutually cooperative energy system and market where producers feel comfortable that they receive a fair return and consumers feel they have real choices," he said.

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