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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Putin Meets Schroeder for Pipeline Talks After U.S. Criticism

Sept. 18 Bloomberg by Lucian Kim -- Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met with former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder a week after a U.S. diplomat criticized a planned OAO Gazprom natural-gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea. Putin received Schroeder, who chairs the Nord Stream pipeline project, and Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller at the Black Sea resort of Sochi today, state-run broadcaster Vesti-24 reported. Nord Stream, which Gazprom plans to build with Wintershall Holding AG, E.ON Ruhrgas AG and Nederlandse Gasunie NV, will supply consumers in Germany, France, the U.K., the Netherlands and Denmark, Putin said. Other partners in the project may still be considered, he added. Last week, U.S. Ambassador to Sweden Michael Wood published a commentary urging the European Union to review its energy dependence on Russia following the August invasion of Georgia. Wood called on the EU to reconsider Nord Stream as well as a second Gazprom project, the South Stream pipeline under the Black Sea linking Russia to Italy via the Balkans. Schroeder, who became chairman of Nord Stream less than a month after leaving office in 2005, defended the project today, saying 100 million euros ($145 million) had been invested in an environmental study of the Baltic that will be presented in October. Putin is scheduled to meet with Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev later today to discuss regional energy projects. Bulgaria signed on as a South Stream partner in January and is participating in a planned Russian oil pipeline bypassing the clogged Turkish straits via Greece.

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