KALININGRAD, October 4 (RIA Novosti) - South Stream pipeline project to transport Russian gas across the Black Sea is not halted, and is being realized despite complexities, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak told journalists on Saturday.
“The project is not halted, intergovernmental agreements are still in force, nobody cancelled them. There are some problems concerning the fact that the European Commission working group has stopped its work on making the mechanisms of pipeline exploitation. So we hope that with the new European Commission composition and with appointment of the new head, we will continue this work,” Novak said.
Russia started building the South Stream gas pipeline across the Black Sea in 2012, aiming to diversify export routes from Russia to central and southern Europe. The pipeline, which will allow the transit of gas to Europe bypassing Ukraine, is expected to be fully operational by 2018. The first gas deliveries are scheduled for late 2015.
Intergovernmental agreements were signed with Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Greece, Slovenia, Austria and Croatia in order to implement the construction of the pipeline's onshore sections. However, in August, Bulgaria suspended operations, saying that they did not meet European Commission requirements.
The commission has long been trying to hamper the project saying it violates the European Union's Third Energy Package, which stipulates that pipelines in the European Union cannot belong to natural gas extractors. Moscow insists that the construction of the pipeline does not contradict the regulations in any way.
On Thursday, the candidate for the post of European Commissioner for Climate and Energy, Miguel Arias Canete said he believes that the South Stream project can be realized, but highlighted that it must fully comply with the EU legislation.