MOSCOW, June 26 (RIA Novosti) - The South Stream gas pipeline will account for 35% of Russian gas supplies to Europe by 2015, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said on Friday.
"We have taken the decision to increase the pipeline's capacity to 63 billion cubic meters. This means it will account for 35% of all Russian gas supplies to Europe in 2015," Miller said at an annual meeting of Gazprom shareholders.
South Stream is a rival to the Western-backed Nabucco pipeline, designed to bring gas from Central Asia and the Caspian to Europe bypassing Russia. The European Union, nervous about growing energy dependence on Russia, is backing the project despite the current economic crisis.
Miller described Gazprom's pipeline as "balanced and economically efficient," and said the South Stream and Nord Stream projects were the company's "strategic investment" in improving European energy security.
Intergovernmental agreements have been signed with Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary and Greece to lay the surface pipeline. Similar agreements are currently being negotiated with Slovenia and Austria.
Investment in the South Stream project has been estimated at 25 billion euros ($35 billion).