August 29, 2011 / 3:37 PM / 6 years ago

Nabucco more likely after Fukushima-EU's Oettinger

* Oettinger hopes for RWE’s further participation in Nabucco

* Says this nothwithstanding RWE, Gazprom partnership

BERLIN, Aug 29 (Reuters) - The nuclear disaster in Fukushima and its subsequent scepticism vis-a-vis nuclear power has increased the chances the up-and-down Nabucco pipeline project will materialise in the future, the European Union’s energy commissioner said.

“Fukushima has basically increased the probability of Nabucco,” Guenther Oettinger told reporters on the sidelines of the Handelsblatt renewable energy conference.

After several setbacks this year have deepened doubts about the project -- under discussion since 2002 -- Germany’s decision to kill nuclear power by 2022 following Japan’s nuclear disaster and progress in talks with supplier Azerbaijan have revived Nabucco.

RWE , Europe’s fifth-largest utility, is planning to participate in the Nabucco gas pipeline, a project competing with Gazprom’s South Stream gas pipeline. At the same time, RWE said in July it secured exclusive talks with Gazprom that could lead to a gas and coal power joint venture in Germany, Britain and the Benelux countries.

“I trust that RWE stays on board (of the Nabucco project) and that the partnership with Gazprom will still be tested,” Oettinger added.

Nabucco plans to deliver up to 31 billion cubic metres of gas per year from the Caspian region to an Austrian hub, aiming to start transporting gas from 2017.

Its backers in May said it would cost more than its target of 7.9 billion euros ($11.3 billion). The link aims to ease Europe’s reliance on Russian gas by delivering supplies through a new southern route.

$1 = 0.696 Euros Reporting by Christoph Steitz

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