Russian energy giant Gazprom has confirmed plans to expand its Nord Stream gas pipeline beneath the Baltic Sea and into Germany. The new pipeline would be built in cooperation with Eon, OMV and British-Dutch Shell.
The key partners in the deal signed a memorandum on Thursday at the international economic forum currently taking place in St. Petersburg, Russia.
"The construction of additional transport infrastructure along the shortest route between gas fields in northern Russia and markets in Europe will contribute to increasing the safety and reliability of deliveries for new contracts," said Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller.
The two proposed new pipelines mark part of an effort by Gazprom to deliver an additional 55 billion cubic meters of gas to the European Union.
"The implementation of Nord Stream has demonstrated that transporting gas through the Baltic Sea is a reliable solution that helps to meet the energy demand," Germany's largest gas supplier Eon said in a statement on Thursday.
The expansion of the Nord Stream would also circumvent Ukraine for gas deliveries to western Europe as of the new pipeline's planned completion in 2020. The ongoing war in eastern Ukraine has also complicated economic issues between the Moscow and Kyiv.
Russia considers Ukraine to be an unreliable transit partner and has complained in the past of illegal gas tapping. The two countries have also argued on several occasions over delivery prices and gas debt, with Moscow initially allowing the construction of the Nord Stream pipeline in order to reduce dependency on Kyiv.
As well as extending the Nord Stream, Gazprom also intends to construct a new Turkish Stream through the Black Sea. The pipeline will have the capacity to annually deliver 63 billion cubic meters of gas to Turkey and Greece.
In January, Gazprom had initially said it would not extend the Nord Stream. Demand for Russian gas has fallen in recent years, mainly due to milder temperatures in western Europe.
ksb/sms (AFP, dpa)