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Slovenia approves South Stream pipeline

Author : Amy Hollamby

16 November 2009

Slovenia signed a deal with Russia on November 14th in support of the South Stream project, a massive gas pipeline running from Russia to Europe, the pipe will run through Slovenian territory. The South Stream pipeline is expected to be built by Russian gas giant Gazprom and Italian energy company Eni.

Slovenia approves South Stream pipeline
Slovenia approves South Stream pipeline

The pipeline will carry Russian gas under the Black Sea to Bulgaria and then branch into two stretches. The first stretch is expected to run southwest through Bulgaria and Greece to Italy, while the second stretch is expected to run northwest to Austria. The pipeline is scheduled to be completed by 2015, but Gazprom and Eni still have to raise billions of dollars to finance the project.

Serbia, Hungary and Greece have already agreed to take part in South Stream, in delivering gas from Central Asia and Russia to Central Europe and Italy through the Balkans. Gazprom has also invited Austria to join the project, but at present no response has been given.

Additionally, Russia is developing the Nord Stream pipeline, which is planned to run under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany. Sweden and Finland gave permission on November 5th for Nord Stream to pass through their waters, which followed an agreement with Denmark on October 20th over the project.

At present the European Union is vulnerable to the risks posed by disputes between Russia and Ukraine, particularly after the incident in January, whereby Ukraine cut off supplies of Russian gas to European countries in the middle of winter. The Nord Stream, and the South Stream pipelines, both bypass Ukraine and hence should ease any anxieties the EU has. However, the EU still feels threatened, and wants to reduce dependancy on Russian gas, and consequently supports the construction of an alternative pipeline, called Nabucco, which imports gas from Caspian Sea nations, such as Turkmenistan.

Slovenia's agreement to support the South Stream project, and the fact that the Nabucco project has been stalled by a lack of supply agreements, further undermines hopes by the EU to reduce its reliance on Russa.

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