TEHRAN, Sept. 13 (Mehr News Agency)-- Iranian Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari on Friday warned the Austrian energy giant OMV that it should sign the deal on the Nabucco gas pipeline soon or Tehran might look for other partners.
"The Austrians must hurry up and turn the preliminary contracts into actual contracts, because time is running out and we won't wait for OMV forever," Nozari told the Austrian daily Wiener Zeitung, IRNA reported.
"Iran has many other options," he warned.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran has never signed as many new contracts as this year," he added, citing deals with countries such as India, Pakistan, Switzerland and Venezuela.
OMV is one of the six shareholders in the slow-moving Nabucco gas pipeline project, aimed at bringing gas from Central Asia to Europe while bypassing Russia.
But the consortium, which also includes MOL of Hungary, Transgaz of Romania, Bulgargaz of Bulgaria, Botas of Turkey and RWE of Germany, has struggled to get construction underway in the absence of sufficient investment. There are also fears there may not be a sufficient gas supply to make the pipeline viable.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said in January that Tehran was prepared to supply gas to Nabucco and Nozari added on Friday that he was optimistic a deal could be made.
"Everybody has recognized that the Nabucco project can't work without Iran: a country with 16 percent of the world's gas reserves cannot be ignored," he said.
"I see that the Austrians are very interested in bringing the project to a positive conclusion. Europe needs Iran, and Austria, which has excellent relations with us, should set an example," he added.
The construction of the 3,300-kilometer (2,050-mile) Nabucco Pipeline is to begin in 2009 and with completion expected in 2013, it will run from the Caspian Sea via Turkey and the Balkan states to Austria, in a bid to reduce the EU's energy reliance on Moscow.
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