Could NABUCCO be rerouted?
By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, September 16The Russian media is continually bombarding its readers with speculation about Armenia replacing Georgia as a regional transit country. The Russian media is even saying that Turkey and the EU prefer Armenia to Georgia.
In geographical terms the route through Armenia is shorter but there are some obstacles to using this route which are for the time being difficult to overcome. First of all the state of Armenian-Azeri relations, particularly concerning the Karabakh problem, make it unlikely that Azerbaijan will agree to send its gas through Armenia under current circumstances. Secondly, the first stage of the NABUCCO project envisages using an already existing gas transit pipeline from Azerbaijan which runs through Georgia and Turkey and attaching new lengths of pipeline to already existing routes. This is a serious financial gain for this project, which it is unlikely to want to pass over for the sake of Armenia. The third obstacle is the serious strategic importance of the NABUCCO project’s initial idea of supplying the EU by an alternative route which would bypass Russia. Armenia is the major strategic partner of Russia in the South Caucasus and a huge Russian military base is deployed in Armenia. Would a pipeline going through Armenia actually bypass Russia?
The Georgian Energy Ministry, through Deputy Minister Mariam Valishvili, says that it is theoretically possible to reroute the NABUCCO pipeline but unrealistic.
The intergovernmental agreement on NABUCCO’s construction was signed on July 13, 2009 by Austria, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey. Its estimated cost is Euro 7.9 billion. The pipeline will be able to transport 31 billion cubic metres of gas annually and construction will start in 2011.