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EU needs to give Nabucco financial support – MOL

  The European Union has to provide financial support, at least capital guarantees to the Nabucco gas pipeline to get the project going, Zsolt Hernádi, Executive Chairman of oil and gas firm MOL said.

“I am convinced that the EU has to provide at least capital side guarantees, it has to put some sort of funding into it,” Hernádi told Reuters on the sidelines of a parliamentary committee hearing on Monday. “If there are guarantees, then all the cash the project needs can be raised but (the project) needs to be able to absorb capital side risks,” said Hernádi, whose company is part of the Nabucco consortium. When asked how much funding would be desirable from the EU, Hernádi said: “As much as possible.”

The five-nation, $12 billion Nabucco could transport up to 30 billion cubic meters of gas a year from the Caspian region to Central Europe but it has been extensively delayed as planning issues, including financing, need to be ironed out. The 3,300 kilometer Nabucco is held by MOL, Austria’s OMV, Romania’s Transgaz, Bulgaria’s Bulgargaz, Turkey’s Botas and Germany’s RWE.

The Balkans region has been the hardest hit in the current gas debate between Russia and Ukraine as some countries lost all gas imports.

“The EU, as far as I know, has not yet formulated an opinion on (providing financing) but I hope the Nabucco conference will give this a boost,” Hernádi said.

Hungary will host a conference on the Nabucco next week with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and several EU prime ministers expected to attend.

A conference planned for Budapest on January 26-27 will only be successful if participants confirm their political intentions, and if the dialogue between gas producers, transmission companies, consumers and the project’s financers is productive, said members of Parliament’s ad hoc Nabucco Committee said at a meeting on Monday.

The conference will be successful if the EU backs financing of the construction said committee chairman János Kóka. Mihály Bayer, Hungary’s special Nabucco envoy, said a similar conference would take place in Bulgaria at the end of April, and an international meeting to discuss “southern energy streams” would take place in the Czech Republic on May 1.

Speaking to the committee, Hernádi said the EU had been insensitive to the current Russian-Ukrainian gas dispute as most nations in the bloc were not affected. “This problem did not reach the threshold needed to get the attention of most members,” Hernádi said. “This problem did not have an impact beyond Bavaria ... and the EU’s first reaction indicated they did not consider this crisis to be very important.” “But no matter what anybody says, the entire Balkans region was left without supplies and that carries political risk,” Hernádi said. (Reuters, MTI)