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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Eni backs Russia on new EU gas links

03-25-2009 - Upstream OnLine - Russian gas giant Gazprom said that it had the full support of Italiy's Eni to build new gas links to bypass Ukraine following meetings that coincided with a new row between Moscow and Kiev. Gazprom said its head Alexei Miller and Eni chief executive Paolo Scaroni met in Moscow to discuss their joint project, the South Stream gas pipeline, which will take Russian gas from under the Black Sea to Europe, bypassing Ukraine. "Taking into account that the EU understands the importance of the diversification routes from Russia, the issue of quickly implementing this project is becoming especially pressing," Gazprom said in a statement, referring to the link. The meetings came as Russia broke off talks with Ukraine after Kiev angered the Kremlin by asking the EU to modernise its pipeline network. Gazprom supplies Europe with a quarter of its gas. Around 80% of this comes through Ukraine's Soviet-era pipelines. The Russian gas giant did not mention a looming deadline to exercise a call option on a 20% stake in Gazpromneft, the oil wing of Gazprom, held by Eni and valued at about $4.3 billion. The call option expires in early April. Scaroni also met Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin yesterday, who is also the chairman of Russian state oil giant Rosneft and a trusted adviser on energy issues to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Sechin later said the two had discussed energy security, which could only be achieved through "cooperation between consumers, suppliers and transit states", Russian media quoted him as saying, a Reuters report said.

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