The Nabucco pipeline is not an "anti-Russian project" and it could be used to transport Russian gas to Europe, the head of the Nabucco consortium, Reinhard Mitschek, insisted in a February 12 interview published by the Turkish daily Hurriyet.
"If gas traders will buy Russian gas, Nabucco will transport it. That will not limit the option to also transport gas from alternative sources to Europe. Our offer to establish a gas transport route from the new sources in the Caspian region and the Middle East will not be limited at all," Mitschek told HÃ¼rriyet.
To date, Russian companies have not expressed any interest in filling Nabucco. Turkmenistan, Iran, Iraq, and Egypt are still the most likely suppliers of gas for the 3,300 km long pipeline, Mitschek said.
"Nabucco will be filled step by step, at first most likely with gas from Azerbaijan, in further steps with gas supply from Egypt, Turkmenistan and Iraq. Iran has huge gas reserves and Europe will have to cover an increasing need for gas imports in the future," Mitschek added.
Ankara's support for the $10.3 billion project is vital, Mitschek continued. "Without Turkey, Nabucco will not be realized. Therefore there is no plan B for the project. Nabucco needs Turkey and Turkey needs Nabucco," he said.
Mitschek said he hoped an intergovernmental agreement on the pipeline would be signed in Turkey no later than June 2009. The pipeline, which continues to be hounded by financing and supply uncertainty, is projected to start pumping 8 billion to 10 billion cubic meters annually to Europe in 2014.