Political hotspots Iraq and Iran will have to supply gas to the European Union if the €7.9bn Nabucco pipeline is to go ahead, the Azerbaijan Energy Minister has warned.
Azerbaijan is expected to be the major supplier to the project, vital if the EU is to be weaned off its dependency on Russia for its energy needs.
However, Natiq Aliyev said that the project's shareholders, which include Austria's OMV and Romania's Transgaz, will not hit its target to start construction next year.
Mr Aliyev argued that tensions in Iraq and Iran would have to be dampened and so they could join the supply line as Azerbaijan could not produce all the gas Nabucco requires on its own.
"In a few years, when the Iran and Iraq situation is more stable politically, we will be able to implement the Nabucco project speedily," he said.
Mr Aliyev also suggested that the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan could be listed on an international stock exchange within three-to-five years.