HELSINKI, Finland, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The government of Finland said visiting Turkish officials put the launch date for the Nabucco gas pipeline two years later than anticipated.
Europe aims to break the Russian stranglehold on the regional energy sector with Nabucco. The project had faced difficulties in securing supplies from non-Russian suppliers, though European leaders were able to make headway with a memorandum of understanding with Baku for Azeri gas supplies.
Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said during a meeting in Finland that the gas pipeline would increase Ankara's influence in the regional energy sector, the Sofia New Agency reports.
He said the "target for completion" of the natural gas pipeline "is in 2017," statements from the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
The Nabucco project consortium in Vienna states that "construction will start in 2012 (and) first gas will flow by 2015."
It wasn't clear why Yildiz was quoted as saying the launch was two years later than the consortium, though Russian energy analysts were quoted by the Sofia News Agency as saying 2017 coincided with the launch of a major gas field in Azerbaijan.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said last week after meeting with European banking officials that he had 100 percent of the funding needed to build the pipeline through his country.
Nabucco would run through Turkey to Austria, crossing Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. The route closely follows Russia's plans for South Stream, considered a rival to Nabucco.