Bulgaria seeking Iran to join Nabucco pipeline for transfer of gas to Europe

TEHRAN (FNA)- Bulgaria has called on Iran to join the Nabucco gas pipeline concurrent with the new round of Iran-Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, France and Britain plus Germany) talks, media reports said.

The call has been put forward during the recent meetings between Iranian Ambassador to Bulgaria Abdollah Norouzi and Bulgaria’s prime minister as well as other Bulgarian officials, Sofia news agency reported.

The call by Bulgaria came after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani last week underlined that Bulgaria has the needed potentials to help Iran gain access to the rest of the European countries, specially for energy transfer.

“Bulgaria has a superior geographical status in Southeastern Europe and it can act like a bridge between Iran and the European countries in all areas, including transfer of energy,” Rouhani said in a meeting with Bulgaria’s new Ambassador to Tehran Christo Polendakov on Tuesday.

Last month, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced Tehran’s preparedness to supply gas to the European countries.

“Iran on par with Russia enjoys all the (needed) resources to provide gas to Europe,” Zarif said in a joint press conference with his Kazakh counterpart Erlan Idrissov in Astana on April 13.

Meantime, the Iranian foreign minister stressed that his country does not at all intend to replace or rival Russian gas exports, and said, “Tehran is a trustworthy partner and this issue has been understood by China, India, Pakistan and Turkey which use Iran’s gas.”

Iran, which sits on the world’s second largest natural gas reserves after Russia, is making efforts to raise its gas production by increasing foreign and domestic investments, specially in South Pars gas field. The country presently supplies gas to Turkey and Armenia and is due to begin pumping gas to Iraq this spring.

The Republic of Azerbaijan was the first country to invite Iran to the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) few days after Iran and the world powers reached an understanding in Lausanne last month.

The Nabucco pipeline is a proposed natural gas pipeline which starts from Turkey’s Erzurum to end in Austria’s Baumgarten an der March and aims to reduce Europe’s gas dependence on Russia.

The Nabucco pipeline project was first proposed in 2002, with participating countries (who in 2009 signed an intergovernmental agreement), including Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Austria. However, the idea was put on hold in 2013 as Azerbaijan, the main gas source for the project, preferred the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) at a certain point, while some European states picked Gazprom’s South Stream.

Iran was proposed as a possible source of gas, but international sanctions imposed over its controversially perceived nuclear program made the idea unacceptable.

A recent breakthrough in Iran-G5+1 talks has pushed the European countries to pin hope for revival of Nabucco with Iran’s participation.

Iran has the world’s second-largest known gas reserves after Russia and has been among the world’s top gas producers in the past decades.

The Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline is a natural gas pipeline from Azerbaijan through Georgia and Turkey to Europe. It will be a central part of the Southern Gas Corridor, which will connect the giant Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan to Europe through the South Caucasus Pipeline (SCP), TANAP and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).

This project is of strategic importance for both Azerbaijan and Turkey. It will allow first Azerbaijani gas exports to Europe, beyond Turkey. It will also strengthen the role of Turkey as a regional energy hub.

Construction of the pipeline began formally in March 2015 and is expected to be completed in 2018.

The project was announced on November 17, 2011 at the Third Black Sea Energy and Economic Forum in Istanbul. On 26 December 2011, Turkey and Azerbaijan signed a memorandum of understanding establishing a consortium to build and operate the pipeline.

By Fars News Agency