BERLIN, August 28 (RIA Novosti) – The European Commission insists that Russia's South Stream gas pipeline operates in the European Union exclusively under European rules, EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger said Thursday.
On Friday, Oettinger is expected to meet with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak to discuss future Russian gas deliveries to Europe.
“Safe transit of Russian gas to Europe via Ukraine, legal and technical aspects of the South Stream project, Gazprom’s access to the full capacity of the OPAL pipeline and issues related to the continuation of the Russia-EU Energy Dialogue will become the main topics for the discussion,” the Russian Energy Ministry said in a statement Monday.
The issue about future gas transfers from Russia to the European Union arose as the Ukrainian crisis escalated.
On June 16, Russian gas giant Gazprom introduced a prepayment system for gas deliveries to Ukraine amid a dispute with Kiev over its $4.5 billion gas debt. The European Commission and Gazprom anticipate problems in winter, when Kiev's gas reserves are likely to be depleted.
Aiming to diversify export routes from Russia to Central and Southern European countries, Moscow began constructing the South Stream pipeline across the Black Sea in 2012.
The new pipeline will allow avoiding transfers via Ukraine, known for its nonpayment of gas debts and for stealing Russian gas. It will become fully operational by 2018 with its first deliveries expected in 2016.
The European Commission is trying to hamper the project saying it violates the EU's Third Energy Package, which stipulates that the pipelines in the European Union cannot belong to the natural gas extractors.
Moscow insists that the construction of the pipeline does not contradict the regulations in any way.