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26 Jan, 2009 07:34

Gazprom officials meet with Budapest ahead of Nabucco gathering

Ahead of this weeks gathering in Hungary to discuss the Nabucco pipeline project, Gazprom's Deputy Chairman Aleksandr Medvedev visited Budapest to secure support for Russia’s new routes.

Gazprom is on tour – around Europe. On the agenda – the aftermath of the gas conflict and new pipelines bypassing troubled Ukraine.

Nord Stream running under the Baltic sea is already under construction, the work on South Stream – under the Black sea – kicks-off this year.

Hungary says it supports the construction of South Stream and might sign a joint venture in the next two months. Janos Veres, the country's Finance Minister, says they want to diversify – and not just transit.

Hungary remains committed to the diversification of the routes of gas supplies as well as of sources.

On Tuesday Hungary hosts European and Central Asian officials to breathe new life into the Nabucco project. The pipeline bringing Central Asian gas through Turkey to Western Europe, bypassing Russia, is planned to carry up to 30 billion cubic meters of gas annually.

But Experts say there might be not enough gas to fill the pipeline and to make the multibillion euro project profitable. Russia says it doesn't consider Nabucco a rival, according to Gazprom Deputy Chairman, Aleksandr Medvedev.

“There is a phrase that ‘nature abhors a vacuum,’ but there have been some cases in history when pipelines have remained empty.”

Gazprom Board Chariman, and former Russian Prime Minister, Viktor Zubkov was similarly circumspect about the Nabucco Project.

“It may become a good monument to ambition and irresponsible decisions.”

But experts say there might be not enough gas. Never before has something as mundane as pipelines attracted so much attention from so many politicians.

Despite Russia's doubts about plans to bypass its pipelines, this week's meeting of Nabucco participants in Hungary will show whether the project which some dubbed “a dream pipeline” will come a step closer to reality.