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Oettinger: EU cannot hamper South Stream pipeline construction in Serbia

The European Commission cannot hinder the launch of the South Stream pipeline construction in Serbia, a spokesperson for EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said on Wednesday.

Serbia, an EU candidate country, is not bound by the same rules as EU members, and therefore the EU executive power has no grounds to demand the suspension of the construction, Marlene Holzner told journalists in Brussels.

"However, if the idea is to bring gas from Russia to Europe, you have to go through European territory and as we have said for all big infrastructure," she said, adding: "If you do business on European territory, you have to respect our legislation."

In July, Centrgaz, a subsidiary of Russian energy giant Gazprom, signed a contract on the construction of the South Stream pipeline through Serbia. The construction of the Serbian stretch of the pipeline is due to start in October, the head of Gazprom's international projects department Alexander Siromyatin said on Tuesday.

South Stream is Gazprom's global infrastructure project designed to build a gas pipeline with a capacity of 63 billion cubic meters across the Black Sea to Southern and Central Europe in order to diversify natural gas export routes and eliminate transit risks.

The construction of the South Stream pipeline started in late 2012. Under the project, the first deliveries are due in 2016 and the pipeline is expected to become fully operational in 2018.

Last year, the European Commission urged to review bilateral intergovernmental agreements between Russia and EU countries to ensure that they comply with the Third Energy Package, which requires the separation of gas production, transportation and sale to prevent gas suppliers from dominating the infrastructure.

[Source: Itar Tass, Brussels, 17Sep14]

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