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BRUSSELS, June 13, /ITAR-TASS/. The heads of state and government of the European Union’s 28 member states plan to discuss the situation around implementation of the South Stream gas pipeline construction project at a June 26-27 summit in the Belgian capital Brussels, an EU Council official said Friday.
The EU leaders are expected to discuss South Stream when they meet to consider the issue of reducing the energy dependence of the EU member states on Russia, the unnamed official told Itar-Tass.
On June 2, the EU’s executive body, the European Commission, voiced its intention to suspend implementation of the South Stream project in EU countries, first of all in Bulgaria. European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger’s spokeswoman Sabine Berger said the EC gave two legal grounds for such a step.
First, she said, the EC has problems about whether the project conforms to the norms of the EU’s Third Energy Package. Besides, Brussels suspected Sofia of violating European regulations to hold tenders for construction of infrastructure projects and of granting privileged opportunities to Russian and Bulgarian companies.
Russian state energy giant Gazprom is implementing the South Stream project to diversify deliveries of natural gas to Europe bypassing Ukraine and reduce dependence on transit countries.
The South Stream Transport B.V. company is an international joint venture organized to carry out planning, construction and subsequent operation of the gas pipeline that will be laid through the Black Sea to Bulgaria and on to Italy and Austria.
Gazprom’s share in the joint venture totals 50%, Italy’s Eni holds 20%, France’s EDF and Germany’s Wintershall Holding GmbH hold 15% each.
The sea section of South Stream will run along the bottom of the Black Sea from the Russkaya compressor plant on the Russian coast to Bulgaria’s coast. The overall length of the sea section will total over 900 kilometers (560 miles), the maximum depth will exceed 2 kilometers and the annual design capacity is 63 billion cubic meters.
The first supplies of gas via the gas pipeline are due in late 2015.