Russia’s Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko says Austria will join the Russian-backed South Stream gas pipeline project in April.
Russian news agencies are quoting Shmatko as saying Thursday that this would be the final deal before construction begins later this year.
South Stream is a joint venture of Russia’s Gazprom and Italy’s Eni. The pipeline will exit Russia under the Black Sea and enter the European Union via Bulgaria to carry some 63 billion cubic meters of gas a year when it comes online in 2015.
Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Croatia are also signed onto the deal.
Austria has backed the rival Nabucco pipeline project, which is supported by the EU and the United States and would bypass Russia in supplying gas from the Caspian Sea region.