VIENNA, Nov. 10 (UPI) -- Clinching natural gas contracts from potential supplier nations is key for plans to start building the Nabucco pipeline, an official said from Vienna.
European backers of the planned Nabucco natural gas pipeline are courting non-Russian gas suppliers to help break the Kremlin's grip on the energy sector.
Moscow, however, has been lobbying for a better energy relationship with Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, seen as influential energy players in Central Asia.
Christian Dolezal, a spokesman for the Nabucco consortium, told Bloomberg News from Vienna that suppliers were the backbone of the project.
"Important for us are supply contract negotiations," he said. "Shareholders are currently negotiating and we know they will be ready to export gas in 2015 and 2016."
He added that 2012 was the "target year" for the start of construction on the planned 2,050-mile pipeline through Turkey and southern Europe.
The consortium announced in September the signing of a mandate letter from the European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank to back the project.
The EIB will commit around $2.5 billion, the EBRD around $1.5 billion and the World Bank roughly $1 billion for the pipeline. The European Commission set aside $256 million for the $11 billion project.