Ankara prepares for Nabucco agreement

July 10, 2009 at 12:00 PM
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ANKARA, Turkey, July 10 (UPI) -- Ankara said it has extended invitations to key Caspian gas suppliers in preparation for the signing of an intergovernmental agreement on the Nabucco pipeline.

Turkey hosts delegates from 18 countries Monday to attend the signing ceremony for the Nabucco gas pipeline to Europe.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry announced Ankara would welcome the delegates following the conclusion of negotiations on gas transit fees, among other things, regarding the $10.7 billion project in June.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan extended invitations to potential supplier nations and project supporters -- Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Delegates from Iraq and Egypt were invited as well.

The Western-backed project is part of the European effort to ease its dependency on Russian gas. Around 80 percent of all Russian gas bound for Europe travels through pipelines in Ukraine. That supply was cut off in January following a contract dispute between Moscow and Kiev.

Despite a series of high-profile meetings meant to generate support for the project, the pipeline faces challenges in meeting its reserve capacity due to a lack of commitments from potential gas suppliers, the Turkish daily Today's Zaman reports.

Apart from delegates from supplier and host nations, Andris Piebalgs, the energy commissioner for the European Union, and Richard Morningstar, the U.S. special envoy for Eurasian energy, will attend the Monday signing ceremony.

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