Nabucco cannot be realized if Turkey pulls out - consortium official .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} Turkey needs the Nabucco pipeline and the project needs Turkey, Reinhard Mitschek, managing director of the project, said on Wednesday, adding that the pipeline could not be realized if Turkey withdraws. (UPDATED)

"The project cannot be undertaken if Turkey doesn't exist or it wants to withdraw any way. Nabucco has no plan B regarding this, but the partners in Nabucco have a backup plan; if there was none, it would mean that you are already weak," Mitschek told reporters in Ankara, when asked if the consortium had a backup plan if Turkey were to withdraw.

There is only one plan and it is Nabucco, he said, adding that in this respect, Turkey is very important.

The 3,300-kilometre (2,050-mile) Nabucco pipeline, the construction of which has yet to begin, will ultimately transport up to 31 billion cubic meters of gas each year from the Caspian Sea to western Europe via Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary with Austria, bypassing Russia and Ukraine.

The pipeline could begin in Georgia and Iran or in Ankara and the consortium would consider both alternatives positively, Mitschek also said.

The importance of Nabucco for the European Union (EU) and Turkey, who are dependent on imported gas, was heightened by the recent tension and pricing disagreement between Russia and Ukraine.

The pipeline currently has six shareholders -- OMV of Austria, MOL of Hungary, Transgaz of Romania, Bulgargaz of Bulgaria, Botas of Turkey and RWE of Germany. The consortium recently raised the cost estimate for the project to about 7.9 billion euros ($10.49 billion) from an initial projection of 4.4 billion euros.

The project so far received scant financial commitment, and it has only a fifth of the gas commitments needed to make it viable. The European Commission said last week 250 million euros would be contributed to the European Investment Bank towards funding the pipeline.