Austria's OMV sells 9% Nabucco pipeline stake to France's GDF SUEZ

28 May 2013 10:19  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--OMV has sold a 9% stake in the Nabucco West pipeline project to French energy utility company GDF SUEZ for an undisclosed price, the Austrian oil, gas and petrochemicals group said on Tuesday.

The divestment follows OMV's acquisition of a 16.7% stake in the gas pipeline project from German energy utility company RWE in mid-April, and leaves OMV still holding a 24.34% stake in Nabucco West.

The ownership of the Nabucco Gas Pipeline International consortium is now split between OMV, GDF SUEZ, BEH of Bulgaria, BOTAS of Turkey, FGSZ of Hungary and Transgaz of Romania.

“With this strengthened pan-European partnership we are looking forward to the upcoming decision of the Shah Deniz II consortium [in Azerbaijan] concerning their preferred [gas] delivery route to Europe,” said OMV CEO Gerhard Roiss.

Nabucco was originally conceived to deliver a 3,900km (2,424 mile) pipeline system that would transport gas from the Caspian Sea to Austria's Baumgarten natural gas hub.

The pipeline was to follow a “southern corridor” route, avoiding Russia – thus reducing the EU's level of dependence on Moscow-sanctioned gas deliveries.

However, following concerns that Nabucco would not be able to sign enough gas-supply contracts to keep its pipeline system viable, the Nabucco consortium opted to switch to a scaled-down project – the 1,300km Nabucco West, which, according to GDF SUEZ, would have an initial capacity of 10 billion cubic metres/year and enter service towards 2020.

Nabucco West is designed to export Azerbaijani gas – already transported as far as the Bulgaria-Turkey border by Azeri-Turkish pipeline infrastructure – into the EU gas market via Baumgarten.

However, the Shah Deniz II consortium may choose – in a decision scheduled for June – to award the export rights for the gas to an alternative project – the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, which follows a route across Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea to southern Italy.

Russia, meanwhile, is pursuing its $39bn (€30bn) South Stream “southern corridor” gas pipeline, which would cross the Black Sea before following a route to Austria that is similar to that planned for Nabucco West.

($1 = €0.77)

By: Will Conroy
+44 20 8652 3214

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