Piebalgs prepares Nabucco tour

Nov. 4, 2008 at 1:02 PM

ANKARA, Turkey, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- European Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs is set to launch a major diplomatic tour of potential suppliers to the Western-backed Nabucco pipeline.

Piebalgs will leave for his tour Wednesday with visits to Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, major contributors to Nabucco. He is also set to visit Ankara as the European Union releases its progress report on Turkey, the Turkish Daily News said Tuesday.

Nabucco is a planned project to ease Europe's dependency on Russian natural resources. It will bring gas from Asia through Turkey to European markets. Both sides, however, have been in dispute over the project, with Europe pointing to Ankara's price scheme while Ankara blames Europe for lacking a cohesive energy policy.

Meanwhile, Russian aggression in the regional energy sector in the wake of the South Ossetia conflict in August has loomed over European plans as the Russian Gazprom and the Italian Eni move on the rival South Stream pipeline.

Piebalgs said through his spokesman that the Nabucco pipeline is integral to European energy security. His tour is to secure support from various governments involved in the project.

"We are going to publish a diary of the trip," said his spokesman, Ferran Tarradellas Espuny. "In his blog we are going to make a daily entry from the commissioner explaining his experiences in this country."

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