* Sees Nabucco costing up to 26 billion euros
* Lack of gas supply, buyers a problem for Nabucco
* Threatens lawsuit against French group over tax payment
By Tom Bergin and Michael Roddy
LONDON, Oct 24 Hungary's Minister For National
Development raised doubts about the viability of the Nabucco gas
pipeline on Monday and said he might sue a French utility which
he believed had not paid enough tax.
Tamás Fellegi, who has authority for energy matters, said
Nabucco was in doubt because it had not yet secured a supply of
gas or customers and because the cost of building it was
"I see plenty of problems surrounding Nabucco. Number One:
it is fully in the fog what the ultimate price of Nabucco will
be," he told a briefing for reporters in London.
"We started out with around 7 billion euros for the full
project, now the very optimistic scenario runs around 24-26
billion, almost four times higher than the original one," he
A spokesman for the Nabucco consortium, which is led by
Austria's OMV and includes Germany's RWE ,
Hungary's MOL , Turkey's Botas, BEH of Bulgaria and
Romania's Transgaz <ROTGN.BX, said the minister's estimate was
However, he added the consortium's own 7.9 billion euros
estimate was under review.
Earlier this month, European Union energy commissioner
Guenther Oettinger said the project could cost up to 14 billion
Fellegi added that he was considering suing a French utility
over tax payments, accusing the group, which he declined to
name, of taking out unreasonably large management fees from its
Hungarian unit, thus reducing taxable profits.
Paris-based groups EDF and GDF Suez operate in Hungary.
A spokeswoman for EDF in Hungary could not immediately
comment and GDF Suez did not respond to requests for comment.
(Additional reporting by Gergely Szakacs in Budapest; Editing
by David Cowell)