New Setback May Loom For Nabucco Pipeline Project

September 2009 Vol. 236 No. 9

The unexpected and sudden renewal of the Turkmen-Azerbaijani dispute over three hydrocarbon fields in the middle of the Caspian Sea is the latest setback to the European Union’s Nabucco gas pipeline project.

Argument over ownership of the Caspian fields had long soured Turkmen-Azerbaijani relations but representatives had met regularly in the hope that Nabucco could be realized. That took a hit July 24 when Turkmenistan reported the impasse over the demarcation of the Caspian seabed remained unresolved “due to Azerbaijan’s specific position” relating to mineral deposits in the disputed fields. Azerbaijan was accused of already exploring the fields which Turkmenistan insists belongs to it.

That could present a major obstacle to the European Union’s Nabucco plans. The proposed 3,300-km pipeline starts at Georgia’s western border and then heads toward Europe via Turkey. Nabucco wants to include Central Asian gas, particularly gas from Turkmenistan, which has one of the world’s largest reserves of natural gas.

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