BAKU, Azerbaijan, March 16 (UPI) -- British energy company BP said a scaled-down version of the planned Nabucco pipeline was a positive step for the natural gas project.
A smaller version of the planned 2,400-mile pipeline, dubbed Nabucco West, wouldn't carry the volume of natural gas planned for the entire project. The $10.4 billion project has faced difficulties in securing firm commitments from potential suppliers and its viability is the frequent target of critics.
Al Cook, a vice president at BP working at the Shah Deniz natural gas field in Azerbaijan, told the Financial Times that Nabucco West was "a big step forward" for the broader project.
"If a car wants to drive from point A to point B and there's only one car, you need to build a road before you build a highway," he was quoted as saying.
Nabucco West would travel from the Turkish border to Austria, about half of what's expected for the entire project. It could carry only a fraction of the estimated 1.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas planned for the Nabucco pipeline.
"We believe Nabucco West is a much improved offer," said Cook. "We're really pleased."
The project could get some of its natural gas from Azerbaijan. A decision is expected by June.