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Hungary’s PM seeks €2 bln in EU support for Nabucco pipeline

The aim is to get €2 billion in European Union support for the Nabucco project, Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány said at a summit in Budapest to discuss the planned pipeline that would bring gas from Central Asia to Europe, reducing the region's energy dependence on Russia.

Gyurcsány said he would like to see the EU decide on €200 million - €300 million in advance financing in the coming weeks. This is not credit, but capital, he added.

The EU support could be supplemented with loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to cover the better part of the investment, Gyurcsány said.

EU support is necessary for the project because the Nabucco pipeline is not just a simple matter of business, but of security too: the private sector alone cannot be counted on to build -- or not to build - the pipeline, he said.

Last December, the Council of Europe decided to carry out intensive public sector investments, including ones in the energy sector, to lessen the effects of the global economic crisis. The money for the Nabucco could come from this program, Gyurcsány said.

Gyurcsány said he would meet with Polish prime Minister Donald Tusk on Tuesday or Wednesday to muster broader support for the Nabucco project.

Gyurcsány called for the establishment of a Nabucco directorate that would form a consensus among the leaders of the countries involved in the project. It is important for the countries involved in the project to issue statements of support for an inter-government agreement, currently under preparation, the end of June, he added.

Gyurcsány said chances were good the pipeline would be built. Azerbaijan has said it is ready to deliver and Turkmenistan is prepared to sell gas at its border. Turkey's stand, however, has not helped the Nabucco project's speedy progress, but the Turkish stand is changing, he added.

Heads of state and high officials from twelve countries, as well as the chiefs of several international organizations are participating at the conference. The aim of the summit is for participants to confirm their commitment and to prepare advance financing for the project which, according to the latest estimates, is expected to cost €9 billion - €10 billion.

The construction of the 3,300-kilometer Nabucco pipeline could start in 2009 or 2010 and be completed in 2013. (MTI – Econews)