BAKU, Azerbaijan, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- Azerbaijan can serve not only as a potential transit country but a gas supplier to the proposed Nabucco pipeline for Europe, the country's energy minister said.
The Nabucco project consortium in Vienna aims to get some natural gas to fill the pipeline with non-Russian suppliers such as Azerbaijan. In May, however, it was announced that construction was delayed by one year to 2013 and gas deliveries weren't expected until 2017 because of supplier timelines.
Europe is trying to break the Russian grip on the regional energy sector through a series of transit networks in the so-called Southern Corridor, which includes the Nabucco natural gas pipeline.
Baku is at the center of a regional energy race spurred by 2009 disputes between Russia and Ukraine, which hosts 80 percent of the Russian natural gas sent to European consumers.
Azeri Minister of Industry and Energy Natiq Aliyev said his country was backing the Nabucco project.
"As part of this project, Azerbaijan can serve as a transit country, as well as a gas supplier, as the project is seen as a priority in light of the diversification of gas supplies," he was quoted by news agency News.Az as saying.
Azerbaijan has more than 50 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in its Shah Deniz gas field in the Caspian Sea.