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The Nabucco gas pipeline project to pump natural gas from Central
The Nabucco gas pipeline project to pump natural gas from Central Asia to Europe bypassing Russia has been removed from a European Union list of priority projects, a source in the EU Council of Ministers said on Tuesday.

The 27-nation bloc had initially planned to allocate 250 million euros ($323 million) to finance the project, but later the funds were cut to 50 million euros ($64.5 million).

The $10 billion Nabucco pipeline, backed by the European Union and the U.S., is intended to link energy-rich Central Asia to Europe through Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria, bypassing Russia and Ukraine. Construction has been tentatively scheduled to begin in 2010.

The Nabucco project is seen as a rival to Russia's South Stream gas pipeline designed to annually pump 31 billion cubic meters of Central Asian and Russian gas to the Balkans and on to other European countries. The project involves Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Italy and Greece.

Russia's transit disputes with its former Soviet neighbors have raised concerns in Europe about too much energy dependence on Russia.

Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine on January 1 after failing to reach a deal over debt and prices for 2009 in late December, and later halted gas deliveries to Europe, saying Ukraine was stealing transit gas. Kiev denied the accusation.


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