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Money, supplies raised at Nabucco summit

BUDAPEST, Hungary, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- A conference in Budapest on the planned Nabucco natural gas pipeline brought financial interest, but also speculation in terms of supplies.

The Budapest conference kicked off with renewed interest in the wake of a dispute between Ukraine and Russia over gas arrears and contract terms.

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Europe receives a large portion of its gas supplies from Russia, and 80 percent of that travels through Ukraine. The dispute left Europe struggling for gas for weeks.

The conference brought officials ranging from supplier nations from the Caspian to banking officials from the European Union and representatives from the potential host nations in Europe.

Philippe Maystadt, the president of the European Investment Bank, expressed interest in the project but cautioned more information would be needed to secure financing, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported Tuesday.

Azerbaijan, a potential supplier, expressed strong interest in joining the project, while Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan have been less eager. Caspian suppliers need upgrades to the regional infrastructure to transit their full resource potential.

Russia and Iran, which did not send representatives to Budapest, are aggressively pursuing rival projects in the region and could court some of the potential suppliers for Nabucco, especially in the Caspian.

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Nabucco would travel some 2,050 miles from Turkey to bring about 1.1 trillion cubic feet of gas to European customers each year. The project is seen as a means to diversify the European energy sector away from Russia.

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