BAKU, Azerbaijan, March 1 (UPI) -- Iraq is very interested in shipping its natural gas reserves through the planned Nabucco pipeline for Europe, the country's oil minister said.
Iraqi officials have expressed support for the Nabucco natural gas pipeline planned as an alternative to Russian energy resources.
Iraqi Oil Minister Asim Jihad told the Trend news service from Baku that his country is keen to play a role in the much-lauded pipeline project.
"Iraq's officials have repeatedly stated that the country is interested in participation in this project," he was quoted as saying.
Nabucco authorities have said they'd look to feeder lines, notably from Iraq, to provide additional capacity to the planned pipeline.
The International Energy Agency said political turmoil in Iraq could get in the way of broader energy developments, though Jihad brushed off the critique by saying all parties in Iraq were ready to discuss Nabucco.
The Nabucco pipeline company said construction on the pipeline is scheduled for late 2013. First gas is expected by 2017.
Nabucco is up against competing projects in the so-called Southern Corridor. In February, the consortium controlling Shah Deniz II natural gas field off the coast of Azerbaijan chose the Trans Adriatic pipeline, a Southern Corridor project, as a possible route to European natural gas consumers.