Delays in the Nabucco gas pipeline project, which re reported on in recent days, are not a problem because there has been a dip in European gas demand due to the economic downturn, the chief executive of shareholder OMV said on Tuesday at the Reuters Central European Investment Summit in Vienna.
The 7.9 billion euro ($11 billion) Nabucco pipeline is part of the EU's effort to diversify its natural gas supplies by bringing up to 31 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas annually from the Caspian region to an Austrian hub via Turkey and the Balkans.
Construction on the project, which has been subject to several delays, is scheduled to start in 2012 with the first gas deliveries expected by 2015.
The final investment decision was recently pushed into next year because of prolonged gas supply talks with Azerbaijan. Some analysts have questioned whether the pipeline makes sense given the lower forecasts for gas demand.
"Timing is important but it's not the most important thing," said OMV's Chief Executive, Wolfgang Ruttenstorfer.
"You have seen in the (gas) demand curve a certain postponement of our growth expectations in Europe over the past two to three years.
"You have seen a dip in demand, which is coming back gradually. So a small delay is not going to be the worst thing you can imagine."