VIENNA, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- International and European lenders are considering investing $2.2 billion to help finance the construction of the Nabucco gas pipeline, directors said.
Europe aims to ease the Russian grip on the regional energy sector with the $11.6 billion Nabucco gas project from the Caspian and Middle East regions.
Vulnerabilities in the European energy sector were exposed by a January gas row between Kiev and Moscow that left regional customers in the cold for weeks. Roughly 80 percent of all Russian gas bound for Europe travels currently through Ukraine.
Kalin Mitrev, a board director at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, told a conference in Vienna that lenders are considering $2.2 billion in syndicated loans to help finance Nabucco, Azerbaijan's Trend News Agency reports.
Nabucco is designed to bring 1.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas to European customers per year. The first phase of the construction is slated for 2011 with gas deliveries expected as early as 2014.
The consortium managing the project in October said it "started detailed discussions" with the EBRD, the European Investment Bank and the International Finance Corp. on funding for Nabucco.
"We expect that next year (2010) the scope of involvement of the individual lenders will become clear," said Reinhard Mitschek, managing director of Nabucco Gas Pipeline International.