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South Stream project to ensure energy stability — Serbian energy minister

June 16, 2014, 13:15 UTC+3 BELGRADE

Serbian Minister of Energy and Mining Aleksandar Antic says South Stream is the major infrastructural project in Europe that would benefit Serbia’s economy and energy stability

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BELGRADE, June 16. /ITAR-TASS/. Serbia’s senior government official said the country seeks to implement the South Stream gas pipeline project. “We’re ready to continue the work. But a final decision on the South Stream fate is being taken by the EU and Russia,” Serbian Minister of Energy and Mining Aleksandar Antic said on Monday.

“We hope for the positive outcome,” Antic said. “South Stream is the major infrastructural project in Europe that would benefit Serbia’s economy and energy stability,” he said. The refusal would be negative for Serbia and other countries involved in the South Stream project, Antic said.

The energy agreement with Russia has been implemented for the large part, he said.


Suspension of South Stream construction

In early June, Serbian Vice-Premier Zorana Mihajlovic said the country had to suspend the construction of the gas pipeline due to Bulgaria’s decision.

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline meets the country’s interests. “As the premier (Aleksandar Vucic) said, Serbia had not taken a decision to stop the works. We wait and see what will happen,” Dacic said, adding that Serbia “is ready to implement the gas project”.

The Serbian government did not take a decision on the South Stream project, Dacic said. “It is the government that should take the decision. But the government has not discussed it yet. Everything proceeds according to schedule. If there are any changes, the government will take a decision,” Vucic said.

After the talks with US Senators on June 8, Bulgarian Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski ordered the work on the South Stream project to be suspended. The EU authorities ordered a freeze on the project. “After additional consultations with Brussels, we’ll determine further works,” he said.

On June 5, Serbia announced it had no plans to delay the start of construction scheduled for July, over the pressure from the EU. 


Strategic project

The South Stream project has faced a number of problems since relations between Russia and Europe soured over Ukraine.

Gazprom said it can complete the South Stream pipeline without international funding. The $45 billion South Stream project, slated to open in 2018 and deliver 64 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Europe, is a strategy for Russia to bypass politically unstable Ukraine as a transit country, and helps ensure the reliability of gas supplies to Europe.

Serbia imports about 2.5 billion cubic metres of gas per year, most of which comes from Russia via Hungary and Ukraine.

The project stipulates for the offshore gas pipeline section to run under the Black Sea from the Russkaya compressor station on the Russian coast to the Bulgarian coast. The total length of the offshore section will be around 900 kilometers, the maximum depth - over two kilometers and the design capacity - 63 billion cubic meters. There are two optional routes for the onshore gas pipeline section: either north-westwards or south-westwards from Bulgaria.

The 900-kilometer-long undersea section of the pipeline will run from the gas compressor facility at Beregovaya, on Russia's Black Sea coast, near Arkhipo-Osipovka, towards the city of Burgas, in Bulgaria. The sea's maximum depth on this route is 2,000 meters.

South Stream is a strategic project for Europe's energy security and should be implemented by the end of 2015. Work is currently underway to draft a feasibility study for the marine section across the Black Sea and the surface section running through transit countries.

The overall capacity of the marine section of the pipeline will be 63 billion cubic metres per year. Its cost is about €8.6 billion.

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