by Oana Strătulă (Partner)
In an uncertain moment for the fate of the Nabucco project which is already declared loser in front of the competition represented by the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), Romania has rushed to adopt legislative measures which aim the achievement of the development works of the Nabucco gas pipeline on the land of our country1.
The Nabucco project was initiated in 2002 in order to diversify the sources of energy supply of an EU dependent on Russian gas by building a pipeline that would have transported Azeri gas to the West via Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria.
Not wanting to share the benefits of its strategic position with many other partners, Turkey has changed its mind and has developed on its teritory, together with Azerbaijan, its own pipeline, Trans Anatolian Pipeline which starts from Shah Deniz and finishes at its european border , from where the gas would reach the West either through Nabucco Pipeline or the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline.
Although it seems that the decision has already been made by the representatives of the Azerbaijani state and by the investors from Shah Deniz (and there are many pessimists who say that this decision is not favorable for Nabucco), the big winner will be announced on June 28, one week before the meeting of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Jose Manuel Barroso, which will have as main subject the southern corridor for the transport of natural gas.
“Better late than never” is no longer available
Surprisingly, under these conditions, reported to the reaction time the Romanian authorities usually have it seems that this time we are trying to be one step ahead of the events so as not to be caught unprepared if Nabucco project will be chosed by the Consortium which exploits the giant deposit of natural gas Shah Deniz from the Caspian Sea.
Thus, according to Law 169/2013, Nabucco project was declared to be of national interest and the works related to Nabucco gas pipeline as a public utility, with the direct consequence of limiting the power of ownership of the buildings that will be affected by these works, by creating a right of superficies and an easement in favor of the company Nabucco Romania.
The right of superficies consists of the beneficiary’s right to build the Nabucco gas pipeline, including surface installations, above or underground the land crossed by it, respectively above or underground the land affected by surface facilities and by the protection zone. The beneficiary acquires the right of using these lands and also the ownership of the Nabucco gas pipeline, for a period of maximum 50 years from the date of commissioning of the pipeline.
The easement consists of the right to access and to perform works related to Nabucco gas pipeline and also the right on its operation and use, the latter being constituted for a period not exceeding 50 years from the date of commissioning of the pipeline.
Let’s not say we did nothing
Given the fact that, according to the revised version of the initial project, the pipeline would have crossed Romania over a distance of about 475 km, it is anticipated that many homeowners will be affected by the construction works and subsequently by the operation and use of the pipeline. That would happen especially because in exercising its rights recognized by law Nabucco Romania could, among other things, eliminate crops or plantations or other arrangements and existing buildings or restrict them only to the extent strictly necessary for the execution of the works.
On the other hand, in exchange for limiting usage of buildings, the law imposed on Nabucco International and Nabucco Romania the obligation to pay compensation and damages for all detriments caused to the owner or holder of assets affected by the exercise of rights by Nabucco Romania, following that, to the extent that they are dissatisfied with the amount of compensation to address the court.
The law 169/2013 also sets out a number of preliminary steps to identify buildings affected by the construction, the existence and the operation of the Nabucco gas pipeline, and some procedural measures for resolving summons involving the claims arising from the exercise of the rights of superficies and easements by Nabucco Romania and/or from conducting operations presented in the notification regarding the commencement of the works.
The law came into force at the beginning of June, however, to the extent that Nabucco will not be chosen by the investors from Shah Deniz, its fate will be to thicken the normative acts which will no longer find their application, but at least we could say we were ready if Nabucco would have won the competition with TAP.
1. This is a translation of the article published on June 26th, 2013, in Business24.ro. For the Romanian original text, please visit this link: http://www.business24.ro/legislatie/stiri-legislatie/editorial-oana-stratula-avocat-strategia-romaniei-pentru-un-esec-anuntat-nabucco-1532166
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