Russia deals to speed up gas project
Moscow, May 16, 2009
Russia signed deals with Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Italy yesterday to speed up the new South Stream gas link to Europe and rebuked the US and former Soviet satellite states for backing a rival project.
Russia signed the deals, including a plan to double South Stream's capacity, as it bids to outpace the Western-backed Nabucco pipeline to bring gas from Central Asia and the Caspian to Europe and ease the continent's dependence on Russian gas.
"Activities around Nabucco are being initiated by politicians, most often from across the Atlantic, because it is a political not an economic project," Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom was quoted as saying in our sister publication the Gulf Daily News.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi came to Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi to oversee the signing of a deal between Gazprom and Italian energy major Eni with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
The two firms have already set up a 50:50 joint venture to build South Stream, which will start near Sochi, cross the Black Sea to reach Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia, Hungary and ultimately Italy with supplies of at least 30 billion cubic metres (bcm) a year.
Gazprom said it agreed with Eni yesterday to increase the capacity to 63 bcm a year.
Russia supplies a quarter of Europe's gas, with exports of 150 bcm a year. Gazprom's plans, such as South Stream and Nord Stream in the Baltic region, have fed European Union fears it will become yet more dependent on Russia.
European calls for greater diversification intensified after Russia cut gas to Ukraine twice in recent years due to pricing disputes between Moscow and Kiev. – TradeArabia News Service