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Turkey Approves Nabucco Transit Agreement

Source: Reuters 3/8/2010, Location: Europe

Turkey's parliament passed legislation approving the transit of the European Union-backed Nabucco natural gas pipeline over Turkish soil, a project aimed at cutting Europe's dependence on Russian gas.

Turkey's ratification late on Thursday, the last among the pipeline's five transit countries, brings the Nabucco consortium one step closer to gaining funding for the 7.9 billion euro ($10.73 billion) pipeline.

The Nabucco consortium is made up of Austria's OMV, Hungarian MOL MOL.BU, Turkey's Botas, Germany's RWE, Bulgaria's Bulgargaz and Romania's Transgaz TGNM.BX.

Germany, which is not a transit country, does not need to ratify the legislation.

The 31 billion cubic metre capacity pipeline aims to bring Caspian and Iraqi gas to European markets, but faces competition from Russia's South Stream pipeline, which unlike the Nabucco already has secure gas supplies.

Iraqi supplies are seen starting to fill the pipeline in 2015, while gas from the second phase of Azerbaijan's Shakh Deniz project is also being eyed for the pipeline.

Turkey's Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said late on Thursday that Turkey had offered Azerbaijan lower than market transit fees to carry the second phase gas to Europe, a move sure to ease Europe's attempts to secure the Azeri gas.

The Nabucco legislation irons out the transit and tax details of the pipeline, crucial details for international financiers who want to see concrete support for the pipeline following the bickering that marked the project's negotiations.

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