$6.3bn gas pipeline to bypass Russia

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Energy minister Malcolm Wicks is in the Caspian region this week to lobby for a gas pipeline that would supply Europe directly with gas – and bypass Russia.

The Caspian and Central Asia region is believed to hold around 4 per cent of global oil reserves and 5 per cent of global gas reserves. Mr Wicks will meet ministers from Turkey, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan over the week.

Nabucco is the proposed $6.3bn (£3.14bn) gas pipeline that would transport natural gas from Turkey to Austria, via Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary. But Russian gas giant Gazprom has also proposed its own South Stream pipeline under the Black Sea into Europe, which may be brought on line earlier than the 2012 target start date for Nabucco.

Europe relies on Russia for around a quarter of its gas. The last visit by a UK minister to Turkmenistan was in 1998.