BRUSSELS, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Natural gas from the Kurdish regions of northern Iraq could aid in regional development if designated for the Nabucco pipeline for Europe, leaders said.
Europe sees Nabucco as the foundation to its effort to diversify the regional energy sector. Despite political backing, however, the project lacks firm commitments from potential gas suppliers.
Nabucco would run from Central Asian and Middle Eastern suppliers through Turkey to European customers. Iran and Turkey signed a series of energy deals recently, raising the possibility that Iranian gas could feed Nabucco.
Energy analysts, however, say Iran will not be ready to supply natural gas to Nabucco in time for its scheduled 2014 completion date, adding Iraq might be a better candidate.
Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, told European lawmakers that linking Iraqi gas to Nabucco would benefit his region.
"Linking the Iraqi pipeline to the Nabucco would enable Kurdistan to play a major role in the region," he said.
Nabucco is designed to have the capacity to move 1.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas each year to European customers from Caspian and Middle Eastern suppliers. The pipeline would run from the Caspian region through Turkey to Austria along a route through Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary.