Nabucco Pipeline: Finita la Comedia?
Though the Nabucco pipeline project did have a promising libretto, some energy analysts believe it may never see its name in lights. On the lookout for lower-priced production values, some pipeline stakeholders increasingly seem inclined to replace the energy opera with an operetta. In a January 31 column for Turkey's Hürriyet Daily News, Barcin Yinanç argued that the Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline Project (TANAP), to stretch from Azerbaijan to Bulgaria, is the new and "abridged" Nabucco. “Abridged...indeed is the right term since while Nabucco was supposed to carry 31 billion cubic meters [of natural gas], the amount that will be carried to Europe [via TANAP] is limited to six billion cubic meters,” wrote Yinanç.A political accord between Baku and Ankara about the pipeline, which will rely on existing Turkish infrastructure, seems to give it another edge over Nabucco, some say. By comparison, Nabucco's main promoter, the EU, has been slow in securing non-Azerbaijani sources for the costly project. The effort to get gassy Turkmenistan on board has seen little palpable success, and Moscow is doing its best to obstruct the Europeans from carving a detour past Russia to reach Central Asia’s energy riches. German energy behemoth RWE said its enthusiasm for Nabucco has dwindled, while Turkey says the project is no longer a priority. Nabucco planners say that, nonetheless, they hope ever more, but "[a] person close to the Nabucco consortium" told The Financial Times that a "slimmed-down version" of the conduit, at 60-percent the cost of the original, could be in the works. In short, what promised to be a grand opera is proving to be more of a soap opera . . . and without a happy ending.