Romania, Russia discuss participation in South Stream

Romanian and Russian officials on Wednesday agreed to carry out a technical analysis of possible Romanian participation in the Russian-backed South Stream gas transit pipeline, according to Alexei Miller, CEO of the Russian gas company Gazprom.

Miller made the announcement shortly after a meeting with Romanian authorities in Bucharest, including Prime Minister Emil Boc and Economy Minister Ion Ariton. He added that Russia is ready to start construction of the pipeline in 2013 and that the project is not a direct competition with similar proposed pipelines.

Earlier this year, gas giant Gazprom invited Romanian state-run gas pipeline operator Transgaz to join the South Stream project. Romanian authorities, who in recent years have expressed their reluctance to take part in the project, have not commented further on the proposal, but local analysts said that Romania is interested in participating in the pipeline. The South Stream pipeline is mainly backed by Russia, which will supply gas from Russia’s Black Sea coast through Bulgaria and Serbia to Hungary, Italy and Greece.

Romania has been a strong supporter of Gazprom’s direct competitor, the Nabucco project, which aims to reduce European reliance on Russian gas by providing access to supplies from Azerbaijan and other central Asian countries. The projected Nabucco route runs through Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary to its final destination in Austria.

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