U.S. diplomat sees tilt toward Nabucco

March 1, 2013 at 6:17 AM

ATHENS, Greece, March 1 (UPI) -- The former U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan said it appears the European Union is leaning in favor of Nabucco West to transport natural gas to Europe.

Europe is supporting the Southern Corridor of natural gas transit networks as a way to break Russia's grip on the regional energy sector. A BP-led consortium working in the Shah Deniz natural gas field offshore Azerbaijan is expected to pick between the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline and the much larger Nabucco West by June.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan Matt Bryza told news website New Europe in Athens that no matter which project comes out ahead, it's better in terms of the economics involved than Russia's rival South Stream pipeline.

South Stream would avoid geopolitically sensitive territory in Ukraine.

Bryza said his European colleagues were staying on the sidelines in terms of vocal support for TAP or Nabucco West. From his standpoint, however, he said Nabucco West would come out ahead.

"The markets served by Nabucco West will be the ones that are most heavily dependent in southeast Europe on one major supplier," he said. "That said, I also think the European Union will be absolutely fair, will not pressure anyone on this."

Last month, EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger said TAP "could be among the first components of the Southern Corridor."

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