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    Turkish minister vows to implement gas project bypassing Russia

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    The Turkish energy minister said Tuesday the ambitious gas pipeline project linking the energy-rich Caspian Sea to Europe, bypassing Russia, will definitely be implemented.

    ANKARA, May 29 (RIA Novosti) - The Turkish energy minister said Tuesday the ambitious gas pipeline project linking the energy-rich Caspian Sea to Europe, bypassing Russia, will definitely be implemented.

    The $6 billion pipeline project, referred to as Nabucco, is expected to run through Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2008, so that the pipeline could go on stream in 2011.

    The European Union expects the project to diversify its supply routes away from Russia and boost European energy security.

    "We will definitely implement the Nabucco project providing for the export of natural gas from the Caspian Sea basin to Europe across Turkey. Nothing will affect its implementation," Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Hilmi Guler told an international oil and gas international congress in Ankara.

    The Nabucco gas pipeline project is seen as a rival to the gas pipeline deal recently clinched by Russia and Central Asian states.

    Russia's President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, which are the region's major gas producers, agreed May 12 to build a pipeline along the Caspian Sea coast to pump billions of cubic meters of natural gas from Turkmenistan to Kazakhstan into Russia's network of pipelines running to Europe.

    Necdet Pamir, chief coordinator of Turkey's Center for Eurasia Strategic Studies (ASAM) said the accords between the Russian, Turkmen and Kazakh presidents would negatively affect the Nabucco project.

    "So far, there have been no concrete decisions on the Caspian gas pipeline. The presidents of Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan only announced their intention to supply energy products through Russian territory. But if their accords are implemented, the Nabucco project will not have a future," the expert said.

    Pamir also said the Nabucco project would be unprofitable without Russian and Turkmen gas. "Iranian and Azerbaijani gas is obviously not enough for the [Nabucco] project," he said.

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