Serbia is about ready to start the construction of the South Stream gas transit pipeline, announced the head of the Srbijagas company Dusan Bajatovic.
Bajatovic told the Bulgarian National Radio Saturday that Serbia will be the first country in Europe to start building South Stream.
He predicted that the Russian-sponsored pipeline will ready in 2015, while also pointing out there were no problems at present on part of Russia's Gazprom or on part of Bulgaria about the route of the pipe.
After running from Russia to Bulgaria through the Black Sea, the South Stream pipe will split in two on Bulgarian territory.
Its northern arm, which will be slightly larger, about 36-41 billion cubic meters, will enter Serbia from Bulgaria near Vidin and Zaicar.
"We are almost ready with the technical studies of this route near Zaicar. I don't have any information about any issues, and we expected to have a joint decision on this route by November at the latest," Bajatovic said.
The South Stream gas transit pipeline is supposed to be ready by 2015. Its construction is expected to cost between EUR 19 B and EUR 24 B. It will be transporting 63 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually, or 35% of Russia’s total annual natural gas export to Europe.
The South Stream pipe will start near Novorosiysk on the Russian Black Sea coast, and will go to Bulgaria’s Varna; the underwater section will be long 900 km.
In Bulgaria, the pipe is supposed to split in two – one pipeline going to Greece and Southern Italy, and another one going to Austria and Northern Italy through Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia.
The project was initiated by Gazprom and the Italian company Eni, and the French company EdF is also planned to join as a shareholder. It is seen as a competitor to the EU-sponsored project Nabucco seeking to bring non-Russian gas to Europe.
As early as April 2010, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced that the French company EDF will also become a partner in the South Stream project. Back then he said that EDF asked for a 20% share, which, if granted, will probably leave Gazprom and Eni with 40% each.