The Nabucco West pipeline, which lost a contest to ship Azeri gas to Europe, is still on a list of projects eligible for EU cash, implying the European Commission still believes it could be built, EU diplomats said.
The Commission, the EU executive, next month is expected to publish a final list of projects judged significant to more than one EU nation and entitled to accelerated planning approval as well as consideration for money from the EU budget. Commission officials declined to disclose the content of the list before publication.
But the diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it included the Nabucco West scheme, led by OMV, as well as the Trans Atlantic Pipeline (TAP), which was selected to by the Shah Deniz gas consortium to carry gas to Europe.
TAP includes Norway’s Statoil, BP, SOCAR, Fluyxs, Total, E.ON Ruhrgas of Germany and Swiss company [AXPO AXPOH.UL].
Commission officials have repeatedly said Nabucco West is not dead and could one day be built if more Caspian gas becomes available.
Other schemes on the list of roughly 200 Projects of Common Interest include a Baltic energy grid, aimed at ending the isolation of Baltic states and curbing their reliance on Russia.
A feasibility study for a gas link from Cyprus to Crete and then Greece or Italy is also on the list.
Cyprus has high hopes of rapidly developing its gas reserves to revive its broken economy, but export routes are complicated by its long-standing rift with Turkey.
COMMON INTEREST TO DIVERSIFY
For the European Commission, the point of the TAP pipeline and also Nabucco West, should it ever be built, is that they will ship Azeri supplies, helping to diversify EU supplies away from reliance on Russian gas.
Part of the response of Russia has been the giant South Stream pipeline through the Black Sea and Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary and Slovenia to northeast Italy. This is not on the EU list of projects, the diplomats said.
Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger told reporters South Stream did not meet the criteria for a priority project.
“South Stream is an addition, but it does not give us access to any new sources of energy and it does not increase the competitiveness of the energy market in European Union,” Oettinger said following a meeting of EU energy ministers in Vilnius.
“South Stream is an idea that comes from our eastern partners. We have no problems with South Stream, but we don’t think it’s a particular EU priority.”
Also in Vilnius, the Lithuanian energy minister said six Lithuanian projects were on the list, including a project to synchronise the Baltic states electric grid with continental Europe.
For the first time the multi-year EU budget includes some financing that can be used for energy infrastructure, although haggling has reduced the energy share to around 5 billion euros.
The Commission hopes these funds will trigger much greater private investment.
It has estimated 100 billion euros is needed just to improve energy transmission lines as part of a single, connected EU energy market with an increasing share of renewable power.