The route selection is a complex process, which needs to take into account the impact of construction on the environment, minimise the disruption to local communities, respect construction targets and deadlines and ensure the financial viability of the project. The following considerations were central to the decision-making process:
- Avoiding areas of high population density
- Avoiding areas of nature conservation and cultural heritage value
- Avoiding difficult terrain as much as possible
- Reducing the overall length of the pipeline as much as possible
- Minimising the impact on long term investment crops
- Minimising security risks
- Minimising cost
NIC has made full use of existing pipelines and energy corridors in order to reduce the impact of construction and avoid opening up virgin territory. A full range of surveys was carried out, including ground investigations, geological, archaeological, ecological, social and climatology assessments. The results are being analysed and mitigation plans shall be put into place where needed.
The route of the Nabucco pipeline stretches from Turkey to Austria, crossing Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary.
The Bulgarian element of the route stretches up towards the existing compressor station at Lozenets, before crossing the Stara Planina mountain range to the North of the country. It follows a section of the existing east-west pipeline before crossing into Romania under the Danube. The landscape is more contrasted in Bulgaria and the pipeline will cross active fault lines. 50 % of the route in this section will follow existing pipeline routes. This section is 424 km long.
The pipeline follows the south western border of Romania and travels through the counties of Dolj, Mehedinti, Caras-Severin,Timis and Arad. The terrain is rockier in Romania and mainly constituted of limestone. This section is 475 km long.
The proposed route in Hungary follows existing pipeline corridors for approximately 52% of its distance. It includes several river crossings, with substantial flood protection barriers. The region is characterised by low lying, gently rolling terrain with vast arable and sunflower crops. This section is 383 km long.
The Austrian element of the route covers 47km and follows existing pipeline corridors along the Eastern border, across the Danube, towards Baumgarten. 90% of the route in this section will follow existing pipeline routes.
Turkey (The Turkish section of the route continues to be a part of the Nabucco base case)
The Turkish part of the pipeline starts in Ahiboz, south of Ankara and will continue westwards to the Bulgarian border, across the Central Anatolian Plain and the Marmara Sea, and through the towns of Inegol, Yuluce, Kirklareli and Kofcas. The terrain is variable, mainly low level plains and gentle elevations on the eastern side of the Marmara Sea with higher elevations before the border into Bulgaria. 75% of the route in this section will follow existing pipeline routes. This section is 2,581 km long.