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ANAPA, December 7 (Itar-Tass) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday launched the construction of a ground section of the South Stream gas pipeline.
“This event is crucial for the Russian power sector and the European power industry. Today, we are getting down to practical implementation of one of the biggest infrastructure projects – the construction of a gas transportation system via the Black Sea bed,” Putin said at an official opening ceremony.
The president noted that alongside with the Nord Stream pipeline that will run via the Baltic Sea, South Stream would create conditions for reliable and unconditional delivery of Russian gas to the main consumers in Southern Europe.
“This project has certainly become international because it involves many European nations. Suffice it to say that in the initial stage gas will be pumped via the territories of at least six countries, including Bulgaria, Serbia, Slovenia, Hungary, Italy and Croatia,” Putin went on to say, adding that leading companies from Western Europe, specifically France and Germany, also participated in the South Stream project.
“This project has enlisted political support in all partner states. All inter-governmental agreements have been signed and all investment solutions have been made,” the Russian president emphasized. He drew attention to the fact that 63 billion cubic meters of gas was a huge amount. In order to ensure gas trasnportation on its own territory Russia will have to increase and expand capacities for exit to the Black Sea at a distance of 2,500 kilometers. Putin said the work had started in 2010 and thanked all partners for the joint work. “I am sure that it’s going to be successful,” Putin said at the ceremony of welding the pipeline’s first joint.
Putin noted that South Stream was an environmentally friendly project. Environmental monitoring is carried out in the entire territory of construction, and all countries involved in the project have access to this information.
“We have no doubt that there will be no environmental damage. On the contrary, the study and research of the Black Sea will help preserving its purity and ecological security,” Putin said.
Apart from the Russian president, the opening ceremony was attended by Kurt Bock of BASF, Nord Stream’s Managing Executive Director Matthias Warnig, Italian Eni’s Director General Paolo Scaroni, South Stream Transport’s Chief Executive Director Marcel Kramer, EDF’s Director General Henri Proglio, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency Maria von der Hoven and high-ranking officials from countries involved in the project.
South Stream is one of the world’s biggest infrastructure projects designed to strengthen Europe’s energy security by diversifying gas delivery routes.
“The new gas pipeline system meets modern environmental and technological standards. European consumers will receive 63 billion cubic meters of gas when South Stream hits its design capacity,” the press service went on to say.
The South Stream project unites partners from Russia and Europe who will build both the sea and ground sections of the pipeline. South Stream will start from the Russian Black Sea coast near Anapa and will run via the Black Sea to Bulgaria from where gas will be transported through the territories of Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary and Slovenia to northern Italy (refinery in Tarvisio). Separate spurs will run from the territory of Serbia to Croatia and Republika Srpska in Bosnia & Herzegovina.
The total length of the South Stream pipeline is more than 2,300 kilometers. It is scheduled to begin operation in December 2015.