FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The Nabucco project still has a chance of winning the contest to transport Azerbaijan gas to European countries, even after a rival consortium signed a funding deal, an executive of Azerbaijan’s state oil firm said on Sunday.
The partners in Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field are expected to decide next year on the entire route for its gas and whether it wants the last stage of the journey to take a southern route through Italy via the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) or a more northern route into Austria via Nabucco West.
The TAP project this month reached a funding deal with companies in the Shah Deniz consortium - BP (BP.L), Azeri state firm SOCAR and Total (TOTF.PA) - thus boosting its chances of winning the contest.
SOCAR Germany boss Elmar Mamedov said on Sunday Nabucco West was still in the running and that SOCAR was cooperating further with Nabucco-West and TAP.
“The agreement with TAP gives the partners more legal and planning security. It is not a decision against Nabucco West,” Mamedov said in a statement, adding that SOCAR wanted to agree the same deal with the Nabucco West consortium.
The pipeline decision is part of a long process of elimination to choose a new pipeline to create outlets for Azeri gas. A new pipeline would also break Russia’s dominance of the European Union natural gas market.
TAP’s shareholders are EGL EGLGF.PK of Switzerland (42.5 percent), Norway’s Statoil STL.OL (42.5 percent) and E.ON Ruhrgas of Germany (15 percent) (EONGn.DE).
Nabucco’s six shareholders are Austria’s OMV AG (OMVV.VI), Germany’s RWE AG (RWEG.DE), Hungary’s MOL (MOLB.BU) through its gas pipeline operator FGSZ, Turkey’s Botas, BEH of Bulgaria and Romania’s Transgaz ROTGN.BX.
Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Susan Fenton