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Nabucco will choose pipeline designer in april

The Nabucco pipeline project, which will carry natural gas from the Caspian to Western Europe, will hold a tender to choose an engineering designer, said Dimitar Gogov, director of Bulgaria's state-run gas company Bulgargaz AD.

As many as six international companies are expected to take part in the tender, which will be held at the end of April, Gogov said at an energy conference in Sofia today. He did not identify them. Nabucco is estimated to cost €4.6 billion ($6 billion) and has five partners: OMV AG, Bulgaria's Bulgargaz AD, Hungary's Mol Rt, Romania's Transgas and Turkey's Botas.

The pipeline, intended to diversify Europe's supply of natural gas, will carry 31 billion cubic meters of gas. Construction of the 3,300-kilometer (2,051-mile) pipeline may start in 2008 and the first supplies could be shipped in 2012, according to Gogov. The project's Bulgarian section is 392 kilometers long and will cost an estimated €400 million, he said.

Talks with the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have been held to finance the project, Gogov said. The lenders have recommended inviting a bigger company as a sixth partner to raise the project's credibility, according to Gogov.

OMV, central Europe's biggest oil company, leads the project and is holding talks with potential partners. „We hope this procedure will be completed by mid-year,” Gogov said. He did not elaborate. (Bloomberg)