The European Commission has approved an exemption from the general rules of regulated third party access for the Austrian section of the Nabucco pipeline. Nabucco has requested this exemption for the Austrian, Bulgarian, Hungarian and Romanian section of the pipeline. The exemption, which can be granted for major infrastructure projects, provides Nabucco with more flexibility to determine capacity allocation and transport tariffs. The exemption is provided subject to the Austrian energy regulator’s introduction of certain safeguards to ensure a positive effect on competition. These safeguards include a capacity cap preventing Nabucco from booking more than half of the Nabucco exit capacity in Austria and rules that ensure a transparent and non-discriminatory capacity allocation to third parties. The Nabucco project, which consists of a 3,300 kilometre pipeline, with planned maximum capacity of 31 billion cubic metres per year, will help ensure the provision of gas to Europe from producers in the Middle East and Caspian region.