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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 June 2006, 16:22 GMT 17:22 UK
Nabucco gas pipeline is approved
Pipelines
Access to energy supplies are a growing international concern
Five European states have backed a $5.8bn (3.2bn) gas pipeline to run from central Asia to Austria.

The Nabucco pipeline will go through Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria and is due to be built in 2008.

The European Union (EU) has given the project its backing as it looks to cut its dependence on gas from Russia.

Energy supply has become a matter of concern for many nations after problems last winter led to shortages and fears that consumers may have to go without.

"The issue of energy security is on the table of every energy minister, as well as foreign, finance and industry ministers across Europe," said EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs. "Nabucco concretely contributes to our energy security," he added.

Enough demand

The G8 group of the world's eight most-industrialised nations is due to meet in St. Petersburg in July and energy issues are due to be the hot topic.

Critics have accused Russia of using energy supplies as a political tool to further its influence, especially with countries which were once members of the Soviet Union.

Despite Russia's assurances that its motives are business driven, many nations want to secure alternative supplies and energy sources.

The 3,300 kilometre (2,050 mile) Nabucco pipeline will bring gas from the Caspian region, with much of its supplies coming from Azerbaijan.

Should work begin in 2008, then the pipeline is expected to start carrying gas in 2011. When it is up and running Nabucco will have a maximum capacity of 30 billion cubic metres per year.

Its construction has not been without controversy, and Russia and its main gas company Gazprom, which is one of Europe's biggest suppliers, want to set up their own new supply routes that do not bypass their territories or companies.

However, Ms Piebalgs looked to play down any threat of a rift between Russia and Europe by saying that there were enough end users to comfortably account for the extra supplies.

"The EU will need an additional 200 to 300 billion cubic meters per year in 25 years, so we have enough demand for at least seven Nabuccos," Mr Piebalgs said.


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