European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso announced Wednesday that he will visit Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan next week to discuss the Nabucco gas pipeline project.
"I will be traveling next week together with [Energy] Commissioner [Guenther] Oettinger to Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan to push for the Southern Corridor initiative," Russian state news service RIA Novosti quoted Barroso as saying. "Certainly, our goal is to have the clear commitments of those countries regarding the Southern Corridor and including, of course, Nabucco."
Barroso will visit Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan on Jan. 13-15. The Nabucco project hopes to pump gas from the Caspian region to European countries via Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Austria while supporters of the project seek to have Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan as major gas suppliers. The project has also sought to secure gas supplies from the Middle East, although tensions in the region continue to overshadow these prospects. So far, no concrete gas supply or purchase commitments have been agreed.
The project is viewed by some as a key element of the Western strategy to reduce Europe's dependence on Russian energy supplies. The project was initially proposed almost 10 years ago but regional politics have since stalled further progress on the project. Investors are expected to make a final decision on the project by the end of 2011.
If built, the $11 billion pipeline project is expected to have an annual capacity of 31 billion cubic meters of gas while a target operational date has been set for 2015. Turkish state-owned crude oil and natural gas company BOTAŞ is one of the major partners of the Nabucco project.