* OMV needs pipeline to bring Black Sea gas to Europe
* RWE says sale of stake has been initiated
VIENNA/FRANKFURT Dec 7 Austrian energy group
OMV may buy German utility RWE's stake in
the Nabucco gas pipeline project that aims to bring Caspian
supplies to Europe.
"We are in talks with RWE about taking over their shares,"
Chief Executive Gerhard Roiss told reporters on Friday. Both
companies own 16.67 percent stakes in the project.
A source familiar with the matter had told Reuters on Sunday
that RWE may soon quit Nabucco and could sell its stake to OMV.
RWE had said in May it was reviewing the Nabucco project.
A spokeswoman for RWE confirmed the sale of the company's
stake in Nabucco had been initiated, adding RWE would continue
efforts to make Caspian gas available to its home market
through, for example, supply contracts.
The partners of Germany's second-biggest utility 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 kilometre
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 said,
noting RWE had no gas of its own in the Black Sea region.
"If I did not have my own gas, I also would not take part
(in Nabucco)," he said.
OMV's Romanian unit Petrom and U.S. partner Exxon
Mobil have made a potentially major Black Sea gas find.
Roiss said it would not be clear until 2014 or 2015, after
more drilling, how much gas was at hand. "If we find a lot of
gas here then we need a pipeline. You cannot develop a field
without a pipeline."
That meant it may make sense to build a version of Nabucco
for this purpose alone, even it did not win the contract to
transport Caspian gas to Europe, he said.
Nabucco's other four shareholders are Bulgarian group BEH,
Turkish firm Botas, Hungarian company MOL, and
Romanian group Transgaz.