Exacerbation of situation with Ukraine reiterates importance of South Stream - Novak

The exacerbation of the situation with Ukraine reconfirms the importance of the South Stream project, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak told reporters.

The exacerbation of the situation with Ukraine reconfirms the importance of the South Stream project, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak told reporters.

Novak recalled that Russia has diversified gas supplies and the current transit risks, for example, through the Ukrainian gas transportation system, for the past few years. Specifically, the gas pipeline Nord Stream pipeline (capacity 55 billion cubic meters) and the Yamal-Europe pipeline (capacity 33 billion cubic meters) were built and the project South Stream (capacity 63 billion cubic meters) is currently being realized).

Novak said these infrastructure projects make it possible to avoid transit risks by bypassing Ukrainian gas transportation systems. "This means that gas is supplied directly to European consumers under contracts signed with Gazprom," he said.

"Unfortunately, such route diversification, which is aimed primarily at increasing the safety and reliability of supplies to European consumers, is not fully backed by the European Commission," the minister said.

"Our agreements with the European Commission on the full use of the capacities of the gas pipeline OPAL, which were reached in late 2013, have still not been adopted by the European Commission. The OPAL gas pipeline continues the Nord Stream pipeline, and only 50% of its capacities are currently used. The European Commission's decision to fully fill this pipeline will help reduce the risks and increase the reliability and safety of gas supplies to Europe," he said.

The situation with the gas pipeline South Stream is the same: this infrastructure project will allow for direct supply of gas to European consumers. The European Commission, however, seems to prevent the realization of this project as the Third Energy Package requirements absolutely rule out the possibility of its construction" Novak said.

"We are pointing it out to the European Commission and the European countries that the construction of South Stream should be intensified to reduce the risks posed by the current situation," the minister said.

The countries that are non-EU members involved in the consultations have confirmed that, he said. "They expressed a clear understanding that South Stream should be built more quickly and the capacities of the gas pipeline OPAL should be used fully," Novak said. In addition, the South Stream project as also backed by many EU countries, including those on whose territories the gas pipeline will lie.

Read more: Russia switching to prepayment terms in gas supplies to Ukraine starting June - Russian energy minister

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