ESSEN, Germany, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- A deal between Azerbaijan and Turkey for a natural gas pipeline could be the break the planned Nabucco pipeline needs, a spokeswoman said.
Officials from Azerbaijan and Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding this week for construction of the Trans-Anatolia pipeline. Estimated at around $9 billion, that project could deliver around 560 billion cubic feet of natural gas to the eurozone border.
The development comes as Azerbaijan and partners at the BP-led consortium developing the Shah Deniz field in the Caspian Sea examine pipeline projects included in the so-called Southern Corridor.
Barbara Minderjahn, a spokeswoman for Nabucco shareholder and German energy company RWE, told Bloomberg News the deal between Ankara and Baku is good for the planned natural gas project.
"We believe that this a possible step to implement the Nabucco concept," she said.
Critics of Nabucco claim it's too ambitious and lacks agreements from potential natural gas suppliers. Iran, which in mid-December claimed it discovered a Caspian field holding as much as 50 trillion cubic feet of gas, had expressed interest in Nabucco.
Tehran's involvement is unlikely given Western opposition, however.
Meanwhile, Russian energy company Gazprom said it was ready to increase dramatically the amount of natural gas it secured from Azerbaijan next year.
The projects included in the Southern Corridor are meant to ease Russia's grip on the European energy sector.
Azerbaijan is expected to make a decision on European gas projects by early 2012.