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AGRI Liquefied Gas Project May Cost 5 Billion Euros

Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- The Azerbaijan-Georgia-Romania-Interconnection liquefied natural gas project will cost 2 billion euros ($2.69 billion) to 5 billion euros, said Natig Aliyev, Azerbaijan’s energy minister.

The two LNG terminals planned for the project could supply as much as 8 billion cubic meters of gas, Aliyev said today after a meeting in Bucharest with shareholders of the project known as AGRI. MVM Rt., Hungary’s electricity producer and distributor, will enter the project by the end of the month, AGRI Chairman Corneliu Condrea also said.

The three countries in the project, as well as Hungary, agreed in September to form the venture to secure LNG supplies to central European customers from the Caspian Sea. The accord bolsters the drive in the European Union to diversify energy supplies and ease dependence on Russian gas.

“The final cost of the project will depend on the volumes of gas transported,” Aliyev said. “We need one year to prepare all the works including the feasibility study and if we combine the financing scheme, then the construction of the elements could take from 1 year to 2 years.”

The study for the project may cost 15 million euros, according to Aliyev.

AGRI’s shareholders are analyzing possible financing sources, including private banks and international institutions such as the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Condrea said.

Aliyev said that Azerbaijan plans to increase its gas output to 60 billion cubic meters from 30 billion cubic meters, enabling it to supply both AGRI and the planned Nabucco pipeline. Nabucco, in planning since at least 2004, would supply gas from the Caspian and Middle East region to Austria via Turkey.

“Azerbaijan supports all southern gas corridors, including AGRI, and that’s why we are now in a position to provide these projects with natural gas,” Aliyev said. “We are looking for new markets.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Andra Timu in Bucharest at atimu@bloomberg.net; Irina Savu in Bucharest at isavu@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez in Prague at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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