Caspian-Europe gas pipeline still an option-press

VIENNA Tue May 29, 2012 2:56am EDT

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VIENNA May 29 (Reuters) - The full length version of the Nabucco pipeline to carry gas from the Caspian region to western Europe remains an option despite comments to the contrary from BP, an official at Azerbaijan's SOCAR energy group told an Austrian newspaper.

"We informed BP that we do not agree with this comment. BP apologised and described the comment as a private opinion," SOCAR's deputy head Elshad Nassirov was quoted as saying in an interview from Baku printed by Die Presse on Tuesday.

"For us Nabucco is still an option because the proposed alternative Trans Anatolian (TANAP) pipeline through Turkey is so far just a concept," he added.

BP's head of fuel refining and marketing said last week that the full-length version of Nabucco was no longer under consideration for shipping gas from its Shah Deniz Stage 2 gas field in Azerbaijan because it was not viable.

SOCAR is also a partner in Shah Deniz 2.

Shah Deniz is supposed to be the anchor supplier for Nabucco, shipping around 16 billion cubic metres per year through the 4,000 kilometre pipeline - just over half the planned total capacity of 30 bcm/year.

Project leader OMV of Austria hopes to fill it in the coming years by signing up additional suppliers in Turkmenistan, Iraq and possibly even Iran.

Nassirov told Die Presse that he hoped a deal with Turkey on TANAP could be struck by the end of June. He said TANAP - in which Nabucco consortium partners OMV or RWE could take part - would be smaller and cheaper than Nabucco and could then be expanded later if needed.

Nassirov said he thought "Nabucco West" - a shorter line running from Turkey's western border to Austria - had a "50-50" chance of being selected should the TANAP pipeline go through.

BP and Shah Deniz partners SOCAR and Norway's Statoil could also build their own pipeline, known as the South East Europe Pipeline (SEEP), which would run from the Turkish border to Hungary and mainly use existing gas infrastructure.

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