Turkey backs RWE for Nabucco project
Turkey favours German energy company RWE as the sixth partner in the Nabucco pipeline, which will carry Caspian and Middle Eastern gas to European markets, an energy ministry official said.
He said he preferred RWE over Gaz de France, which is also in talks with the Nabucco gas group, as the project"s sixth partner. ?We have had meetings with RWE officials and they are continuing. Turkey is on the side of the German firm becoming a partner in Nabucco. We can say that RWE is ahead of Gaz de France in becoming a long term partner,? the official said late on Wednesday.
Earlier this year a Turkish official told Reuters it had suspended talks with Gaz de France on it becoming a partner in Nabucco after France passed a bill making denial of an Armenian genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks a crime.
The official said the genocide bill was still a factor in their preference of RWE over Gaz de France.
?Our position is the same,? he said.
Turkey denies that Ottoman Turks committed a systematic genocide against 1.5 million Armenians during World War One and and has said it would take punitive measures against countries that enacted such legislation.
The five signatory companies to the pipeline project -- Austria"s OMV, Hungary"s MOL, Romania"s Transgaz, Bulgaria"s Bulgargaz and Turkey"s Botas have been looking for a sixth partner. A source close to the talks has said a partner may be chosen by October.
A Botaş official said the five Nabucco signatories hope to choose a construction company for the project by the end of this year.
?We plan to work out the technical details for the tender documents within the next two months ... and we hope to select a construction company by the end of this year,? said Emre Engur, head of international operations at Botaş.
The 4.6 billion euro ($6.14 billion) pipeline project has been seen as a way of easing Russia"s hold on Europe"s gas resources after the country cut off its supplies to Ukraine following a political row.
In June, Russia"s Gazprom announced that it was building a natural gas pipeline with Itay"s Eni under the Black Sea to Bulgaria, from where it would stretch to Italy, in a project that would compete directly with Nabucco.
European gas demand is expected to increase sharply in the coming years and depend more on imports, as output from European fields shrinks.
The Nabucco group has yet to determine the financing structure for the pipeline as well as choose its final member.