Iraq looks beyond Nabucco gas pipeline

April 7, 2011 at 8:15 AM
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PARIS, April 7 (UPI) -- Though Iraq could export surplus natural gas to European markets, it isn't committed to doing so through the Nabucco pipeline, the deputy prime minister said.

The consortium managing plans for the Nabucco natural gas pipeline said in October that it considered engineering work for feeder lines from Georgia and Iraq to connect to the main artery in Turkey.

Europe aims to break Russia's grip on the regional energy sector with Nabucco, though the project is slow to attract formal supply commitments.

Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussein al-Shahristani said at an energy summit in Paris that Baghdad was committed to exporting any surplus gas in the immediate future.

"We have an agreement with the European Union where Iraq is going to supply the EU with some gas, not necessarily from Nabucco," he was quoted by the Platts news service as saying. "Iraq is not committed to that project."

Nabucco would stretch from Turkey to Austria, crossing Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary, delivering gas by 2015.

Iraq flares most of the natural gas because it doesn't have the capacity to utilize associated gas in oil deposits. Shahristani, the former oil minister, said Iraq may consider potential liquefied natural gas deliveries to Asian markets as part of a broader export strategy.

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