MOSCOW, July 9 (RIA Novosti) – Russia and Italy have confirmed their goal of completing the South Stream gas pipeline, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday.
“Today we confirmed our goal on completing the construction project of the South Stream gas pipeline. We confirmed our intention to continue active work in order to remove all issues that may arise, including in regard to dialogue with the European Commission and taking into account intergovernmental agreements that have been signed by the participating countries in the project,” Lavrov said during a press conference in Moscow with his Italian counterpart Federica Mogherini.
The South Stream pipeline, expected to carry Russian gas across the Black Sea to Southern and Central European countries, is aimed at diversification of export routes for Russian gas.
South Stream construction began in late 2012. The first deliveries are expected in 2016, with the pipeline planned to become fully operational in 2018. South Stream is expected to have a total capacity of 63 billion cubic meters.
To implement the onshore part of the project, Russia has signed intergovernmental agreements with Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia, Slovenia and Croatia.
The European Commission said Russia’s talks with transit countries violated the EU legislation. Moscow in turn initiated legal proceedings in the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the EU’s Third Energy Package, under which owners of pipelines located in the region cannot also be gas producers.
The latest alternative route of South Stream comes ashore in Bulgaria and continues to Serbia, where it splits, with the first branch going through Hungary to Austria and the second through Hungary and Slovenia to Italy. Branches are also expected to be constructed in Croatia and the Bosnian Serb Republic.