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Iran intends to build an oil pipeline to run across
Iran intends to build an oil pipeline to run across its territory to pump crude to global markets, Hossein Noghrehkar Shirazi, an Iranian deputy oil minister said on Tuesday.

The oil pipeline is planned to run from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf and is expected to pump 1 million barrels of oil per day, Shirazi told the English-language Press TV channel but declined to specify the project cost or its timeframe.

"The pipeline will link the port of Neka in the country's north with the port of Jask in southern Iran," Shirazi said.

Seyyed Reza Kasaeizadeh, an Iranian deputy oil minister, said on Monday that the Islamic Republic also planned to start work this year on the construction of a pipeline as part of the Western-backed Nabucco project designed to pump gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe bypassing Russia.

The Nabucco project is intended to pump 20-30 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually from Central Asia, under the Caspian Sea, then through Azerbaijan, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria. The construction of the Nabucco gas pipeline is expected to begin in 2010 and be completed by 2013.

"The feasibility study of Iran's possibilities in this project has almost been concluded. The Iranian gas pipeline will become a part of the Nabucco project, to supply natural gas to Europe from Iran's largest Southern Pars gas field [in the Persian Gulf]," Kasaeizadeh said.

Some analysts, however, say that without the support of Turkmenistan, a major natural gas producer in Central Asia, the Nabucco project is unrealistic.

Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan, and more recently Iraq, have been seen as possible suppliers for the project. Iraq's bid is backed by the United States.

Russia is skeptical over the Nabucco pipeline, saying that in the foreseeable future it will have insufficient gas supplies.

In what was widely seen as a major blow to the Nabucco project, Russia, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan signed a deal in December to supply the Asian states' Caspian gas via Russia. Moscow also reached deals with Bulgaria and Serbia earlier this year on the South Stream pipeline to pump Central Asian gas to Europe.

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