OMV buys RWE stake in Nabucco gas pipeline project

VIENNA, April 14 Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:01am EDT

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VIENNA, April 14 (Reuters) - Austrian energy group OMV has bought German utility RWE's nearly 17 percent stake in the Nabucco pipeline project that aims to bring Caspian gas to Europe, OMV said on Sunday.

An OMV spokesman confirmed media reports about the sale but gave no financial details. RWE also confirmed the stake was transferred on March 1 but gave no price or other details.

"You can be pretty sure that this is not going to be the final (Nabucco) shareholder structure as it is today," the OMV spokesman added.

OMV Chief Executive Gerhard Roiss had said in December that talks with RWE on a sale were under way. Both companies own 16.67 percent stakes in the project.

A decision on which pipeline project will get the contract of delivering Azeri gas to Europe is due within months. Nabucco is competeing against the Trans Adriatic Pipeline group.

RWE had said in May it was reviewing the Nabucco project.

OMV and its partners have proposed a scaled-down version of the project called Nabucco West that would run from Turkey's western border to Austria.

Nabucco West foresees the construction of a 1,300 km pipeline from the Bulgarian/Turkish border to Austria.

Original plans were for a 4,000 km pipeline. Critics said estimated costs of more than $12 billion would make it too pricey and there would not be enough gas available to fill the pipeline with non-Russian supplies.

Nabucco West's owners, in the long term, will be countries and companies with gas reserves bound for Europe, Roiss has said, noting RWE had no gas of its own in the Black Sea region.

Nabucco's other four shareholders are Bulgarian group BEH, Turkish firm Botas, Hungarian company MOL, and Romanian group Transgaz.

(Reporting by Michael Shields in Vienna and Andreas Cremer in Berlin, editing by William Hardy)

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