Russian energy officials are lobbying the EU to grant the Gazprom-led South Stream exemptions from EU competition and gas market rules. Energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger says the rival, EU-backed Nabucco project remains a priority, but has indicated that some concessions are possible.
In an afternoon-long PR event at a Brussels hotel on Wednesday (25 May), the CEO of Gazprom, Alexei Miller, Russian energy minister Sergei Shmatko and the head of the South Stream project, Marcel Kramer made the case for the EU to throw its weight behind the pipeline, set to run through the Black Sea and to offer an alternative route to the Ukrainian gas network.
The final route, pending investment deicisons in 2012 and questions over Bulgaria’s commitment, could still change. But in theory, the pipe is to go on the southern seabed of the Black Sea, then on land either through Romania or Bulgaria to Serbia and then branch off to Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia.
Despite claims that the