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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Gazprom suggests new company could join European gas pipeline

LONDON, April 25 (RIA Novosti) - A third company could be invited to join a project to build a major gas pipeline stretching from Russia and Europe, a deputy board chairman of Russian energy giant Gazprom said Tuesday. Gazprom is project manager for the $10.5-billion North European Gas Pipeline project that will eventually see 55 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas pumped to Germany across the Baltic Sea floor. The company has a 51% stake in the project, with Germany's BASF and E.ON acting as the second partner, each with stakes of 24.5%. "We are not ruling out that a third party could be attracted to this project with Gazprom keeping its share," Alexander Medvedev told the Russian Economic Forum in London. "This decision will be made by July." The project construction plan includes two parallel gas pipeline legs, each 750 miles long. The first stage will see construction of one leg with capacity of 27.5 billion cu m, and the second phase will double it. The pipeline, which will bypass transit countries like Ukraine and Poland, is expected to come on stream in 2010. Russian gas currently reaches western Europe by pipelines through Ukraine and Belarus, and anxiety was raised across the continent following January's spat between Russia and Ukraine that saw supplies to the former Soviet republic cut off. Russia says the NEGP will guarantee reliable supplies to European consumers, and reduce dependency on transit countries.

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