BRUSSELS, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- The proposed Nabucco natural gas pipeline is not meant to sideline Russia as the European Union still sees the gas giant as a partner, EU officials said.
Ferran Tarradellas Espuny, the spokesman for EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, said the proposed $10.7 billion Nabucco gas pipeline is intended to diversify the European energy sector, not exclude Russia, the Interfax news agency reports.
Espuny told reporters in Brussels that Russia was the main gas provider to the European Union and would remain that way.
The EU prioritized energy diversification in a broad reform agenda outlined in 2008. The strategy received new attention in January when a dispute between Russia and Ukraine disrupted natural gas supplies to Europe.
Russia sits on the largest gas deposits in the world, with an estimated 1,680 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves.
The 2,051-mile Nabucco pipeline would link Caspian and Middle Eastern suppliers to European customers.