The Central Asian nation of Turkmenistan has promised to supply natural gas for the proposed Nabucco pipeline -- a project that could allow European Union (EU) countries to rely less on Russian energy in the future.

Turkmenistan said it will provide up to 40-billion cubic meters of spare gas annually, so European countries need not worry.

The 3,300-km Nabucco pipeline is expected to pump up to 31-billion cubic meters of gas annually from the Caspian region and Middle East across Turkey and into Europe.

In July 2009 Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Austria signed an agreement to build the pipeline.
The pipeline is expected to cost about 7.9-billion euros and is projected to come on stream by the end of 2014, Reuters reported.

According to British Petroleum, Turkmenistan possesses the world's fourth-largest natural gas reserves.

Turkmen Deputy Prime Minister Baymyrad Hojamuhamedov said supplying gas to Europe was part of his country’s plan to diversify its export markets.

Taking into account domestic demand in the west of the country and supplies from there to Iran, we willhave 40 billion cubic meters (of gas free every year, so European countries need not worry, Hojamuhamedov told an energy conference.

It's very good news for us that others supported this initiative, he added. It supports our president's policy of diversifying export markets for Turkmen natural gas and we are bringing these plans to life. Today, we are selling gas to Iran, China and Russia and talks on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline are moving at a fast pace. This initiative now opens up one more direction -- across the Caspian Sea -- and the opportunity to sell our hydrocarbons on the European market.
The EU currently depends upon Russia for a quarter of its total gas supplies; and seven countries in the euro bloc are almost totally dependent on Russian gas.

Meanwhile, Russia plans to develop the “South Stream” pipeline which will run from southern Russia under the Black Sea to Bulgaria. This project is viewed as a major rival to Nabucco.