Putin Urges Unblocking of South StreamRussia | October 16, 2014, Thursday // 12:46| views
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, 14 October 2014. Photo EPA/BGNES
With transit of Russian gas to Europe via Ukraine still being problematic, diversification of supply routes is an obvious solution, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has said
“Unblocking the situation around the South Stream gas pipeline… will contribute considerably to the comprehensive energy security of Europe,” Putin said on Wednesday in an interview with Serbian daily Politika published ahead of his visit to Belgrade.
Russia suspended gas supplies to Ukraine in June over unpaid debt and price dispute, raising fears in Europe of a repeat of disruptions of Russian gas supplies via Ukraine such as those that occurred in 2006 and 2009. Russian supplies meet about
a third of Europe’s gas consumption.
“Everyone stands to benefit from it - Russia as well asEuropean consumers, including Serbia,” Putin said, highlighting that implementation of the project is expected to bring more than EUR 2 B in fresh investment to Serbia, considerably boosting the country’s energy security.
Construction of the pipeline designed to carry 63 billion cubic metres of Russian gas a year to Europe across the Black Sea bypassing Ukraine and via the territories of Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia and Austria was put on hold in Bulgaria earlier this year at the behest of the European Commission.
The Commission has said the project violated the Union’s energy legislation which stipulates that gas pipelines in EU member states cannot be owned by natural gas producers. Russia has said the construction of South Stream doesn’t violate EU energy regulations.
Putin’s aide Yuri Ushakov said on Wednesday the South Stream project would be discussed in talks between Putin and his Serbian counterpart Tomislav Nikolic on Thursday.
Preparations for building the Serbian section of the pipeline are already underway.
Putin also said Moscow hopes that the European Commission (EC) will soon settle the issue of using the OPAL gas pipeline at full capacity.
Citing tension in Ukraine, EU authorities, have asked for a delay until at least the end of this month on whether to allow Russia greater access to the 470-kilometre long OPAL pipeline which runs in Germany along the country’s eastern border southward to the border with the Czech Republic.
With design capacity to carry 36 billion cubic metres of gas a year, OPAL was built to connect the 1,220-kilometre long Nord Stream pipeline to the existing pipeline network in the Czech Republic, thus giving central and western Europe access to Russia’s vast natural gas reserves in Siberia.
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