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Energy

TIMELINE-Key dates for Nabucco and South Stream pipelines

PRAGUE, Aug 7 (Reuters) - The Nabucco pipeline aims to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian gas while the rival South Stream project is Russia’s answer to the European-union backed pipeline.

Below are some key dates in the history of both projects.

NABUCCO

February 2002 - Talks on the project first take place between Austria's OMV OMVV.VI, Turkey's Botas, Hungary's MOL MOLB.BU, Romania's Transgaz TGNM.BX and Bulgaria's Bulgargaz. The name Nabucco came from the Giuseppe Verdi opera the partners had listened to after a meeting.

June 2004 - Nabucco Gas Pipeline International established with the goal of starting construction in 2011 and getting gas first flowing in 2014. The pipeline project aims to connect Turkey with Austria via Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary.

June 2008 - First contract to supply gas from Azerbaijan through the Nabucco pipeline to Bulgaria signed.

January 2008 - Nabucco Gas Pipeline International -- the consortium planning and constructing the Nabucco Gas Pipeline -- starts detailed technical planning of the project.

February 2008 - Germany's RWE RWEG.DE becomes the sixth partner in the Nabucco consortium. The consortium has said it would be open to a seventh shareholder.

January 2009 - January cut-off in Russian gas supplies spurs renewed calls for acceleration of big pipeline projects like Nabucco to ease European dependence on Russian gas.

January 2009 - Nabucco Summit held in Budapest where the heads of the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development say they are prepared to provide financial backing for the pipeline.

July 2009 - European Investment Bank says it is ready to help finance the 7.9 billion euro ($11.34 billion) Nabucco pipeline and to look closely at the concept of creating a single gas purchaser to ensure the project is viable.

July 2009 - The Nabucco pipeline receives 16 non-binding bids from companies keen to buy up capacity of the planned 31 billion cubic metre line.

May 2009 - Local engineering of Nabucco’s pipeline route begins.

July 2009 - Political agreement among the Nabucco transit countries, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey signed in Ankara. Germany is not a transit country and therefore not party to agreement but states full political support.

SOUTH STREAM

June 2007 - Italian oil firm Eni EN.MI and Gazprom GAZP.MM announce plans to build a 10 billion euro pipeline, seen as a rival to Nabucco, to take Russian gas under the Black Sea to south-eastern Europe, avoiding Ukraine with which Russia has had pricing disputes.

January 2008 - The two companies register the equally owned joint venture South Stream AG in Switzerland.

January 2008 - Russia and Bulgaria sign preliminary agreement on Bulgaria’s participation in the project.

January 2008 - Russia and Serbia sign an agreement to route a northern pipe of South Stream through Serbia and to create a joint company to build the Serbian section of the pipeline and a large storage facility near Banatski Dvor.

April 2008 - Russia and Greece signed an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in construction and operation of the Greek section of South Stream.

May 2009 - Gas companies of Russia, Italy, Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece sign an agreement on construction of the South Stream pipeline.

August 2009 - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin wins Turkey’s approval for the South Stream pipeline to cross Turkish waters to Europe, countering the rival EU-sponsored Nabucco, and signs deals to help make Turkey a key regional energy hub. Putin says it will not stand in way of the Nabucco pipeline. (Compiled by Michael Kahn; editing by James Jukwey)

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