EU hopes Iraq gas deal with Iraqi PM via Turkey

The European Union hopes to reach an outline agreement to import Iraqi gas via a planned pipeline across Turkey when Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki makes his first visit to Brussels this week, EU officials said.

EU hopes Iraq gas deal with Iraqi PM via Turkey
The political agreement would be the second boost in a week for the EU's troubled $6 billion Nabucco pipeline project, due to transport gas across Turkey to central Europe, after Brussels secured a promise of gas supplies from Turkmenistan.

The EU is keen to diversify away from Russia, which provides a quarter of Europe's gas needs, and hopes Iraq will eventually feed into Nabucco via a pipeline planned to run from Egypt through Jordan and Syria to Turkey, the officials said.

"It may be possible to announce a political agreement on energy cooperation," an EU official involved in preparations for the visit said. He said no volume for the Iraqi gas was likely to be announced.

The centrepiece of the three-day visit starting on Tuesday will be enhanced energy cooperation, details of which will be discussed by EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs and Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani on Wednesday.

Maliki will also discuss trade ties, the security situation and EU assistance for rebuilding Iraq's administration with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and foreign policy chief Javier Solana, as well as NATO training for Iraqi army and police officers with NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer on Thursday.

Connecting fields in western Iraq to a planned Arab Gas Pipeline would enable Baghdad to supply gas to Nabucco, construction of which is due to start in 2010 and be completed in 2013, EU officials said.

Last Mod: 15 Nisan 2008, 09:07
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