ODESSA, Ukraine, July 29 (UPI) -- Important steps on the Nabucco natural gas pipeline for Europe are expected in the coming months, the European energy commissioner said in Ukraine.
Gunther Oettinger, the energy commissioner for the European Union, told delegates at a meeting in Odessa that investments in the Black Sea region were vital for European energy security.
Turkey is positioning itself as a major energy hub for European markets. Some of the longest oil and gas pipelines pass through Turkish territory or are planned for its Black Sea waters.
European leaders are looking to the Nabucco pipeline planned through Turkey as a way to break the Russian deadlock on the European gas sector.
Around 80 percent of all Russian gas for Europe passes through Soviet-era pipelines in Ukraine, leaving European customers vulnerable to geopolitical issues.
"In this regard, the gas markets isolation of the central and southern EU member states is a concern to the commission," said Oettinger in his prepared remarks.
Despite political support for the project, however, Nabucco has been slow to secure formal commitments from potential non-Russian gas suppliers. Rival pipelines from Russia have made noted progress by comparison.
Oettinger, however, said energy security was an issue that required strong political will to move Nabucco forward.
"We are confident that in the coming months important steps will be taken toward the investment decision on Nabucco," he said.