French prime minister Dominique de Villepin declared while visiting Bucharest that some investments in the gas mainline project Nabucco are to be expected from France. De Villepin, quoted by his Romanian homologue, Calin Popescu Tariceanu, says that the French giant Gaz de France wants to become a partner in the project.

Nabucco involves currently five companies, while the search for a strategic partner still continues.

De Villepin met PM Tariceanu on Thursday to sign the agreement on the repatriation of Romanian minors in financial difficulty on French soil.

In case it's completed, the Nabucco project would provide some 25 billion cubic meters of natural gas every year, transporting it 3,000 kilometers from sources in Iran and Turkmenistan, through Turkey and Romania to Hungary and Austria.

If launched in 2008, the project would take some three years and cost over 4.5 billion euros. Companies participating already include Botas (Turkey), OMV (Austria), MOL (Hungary), Bulgargaz (Bulgaria) and Transgaz (Romania).

Discussions for finding a strategic partner were opened with Gaz de France, Total - France, E.ON and RWE - Germany.