South Stream

Germany – and its chancellor Angela Merkel – deserve credit for the continuation of the EU’s sanctions regime against Russia. But Germany happens also to be home to the energy giant E.ON, which recently signed a (non-binding) memorandum, together with Russia’s Gazprom, Austria’s OMV, and Shell from the UK and the Netherlands, agreeing to the extension of the Nord Stream pipeline, which brings Russian gas into the European Union (EU).

The extension, to be completed by 2020, would double the transit capacity of the pipeline, currently at 55bn cubic meters per year. Together with Turkish Stream, another project Gazprom is toying with, it would make gas transit through Ukraine redundant by the time the country’s current contract with Gazprom expires in 2019. Read more

Vladimir Putin seemed pretty emphatic on Monday that Russia would stop construction of the South Stream gas pipeline, shelving a strategically important project that Moscow was counting on to cement its influence in south-eastern Europe.

Speaking after talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his Turkish counterpart, in Ankara, Putin said Russia would abandon the project to bring Russian gas to Bulgaria under the Black Sea, bypassing Ukraine, unless the EU dropped its opposition.

But does this really mark the full stop that it appears to be? It is true that Alexei Miller, CEO of Gazprom, the company charged with building the pipeline, told reporters: “that’s it, the project is closed”. But analysts see a more subtle game in play. Read more

Thursday will be a crucial day for Ukraine. Its parliament will attempt to adopt a package of bills needed to secure the next tranche of an IMF bail-out loan. Equally important will be a separate bill to allow the creation of a joint venture between EU and US companies to operate Ukraine’s gas transportation system.

That would strike a blow at Russia’s South Stream project. But what are its prospects? Read more

Croatia’s Adriatic coast is best known for its beautiful mountain scenery, clear blue sea and dozens of charming Venetian-influenced towns and cities. But the former Yugoslav country’s government hopes it will become equally well known for what may lie beneath those pristine waters – billions of dollars’ worth of oil and gas. Read more

When is a pipeline not a pipeline? When it’s a highly-controversial Russian energy project that would cut Ukraine out of the European gas supply equation – at least according to Bulgaria’s parliament.

The EU member state is at loggerheads with the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, over the South Stream gas pipeline that would carry Russian gas from Bulgaria through Serbia to central Europe and Italy. Read more

Kremlin website

Vladimir Putin took part in a ceremony on Friday to launch of construction of the South Stream pipeline that will provide Russia with a new route to European gas markets bypassing Ukraine.

Energy pundits who have dismissed the €16bn project as a Kremlin ruse designed to force Kiev to accept Russian terms for gas trading, may have to think again. It looks as if South Stream is really happening. Read more

Pipeline will be laid on the bed of the Black Sea

Gazprom has been putting the final investment agreements in place for the South Stream project, clearing the way for construction of the 63bn cubic metres a year pipeline to Europe to begin next month. Never mind that demand for Russian gas in Europe is falling, or the $19bn cost of South Stream. The pipeline will help free Gazprom from dependence on Ukrainian transit pipelines and improve European energy security. Read more

Russian energy giant Gazprom is set to push ahead with its controversial South Stream gas pipeline which will run to the heart of Europe, while progress on an EU-backed rival project is, as usual, patchier.

On Monday, Srbijagas – a Serbian government-owned monopoly – announced that it would start work on the 470km, €1.7bn stretch of South Stream running through Serbian territory in December. Read more

Unlike many European leaders, Vladimir Putin has remained on amicable terms with Silvio Berlusconi even after the former Italian prime minister’s ignominious exit from power late last year.

But Putin is not going to let personal loyalties interfere with the strategic partnership Russia and Italy built during the time that his friend dominated Italian politics. A flurry of deals signed on Monday as Mario Monti, Italy’s new premier paid his first working visit to Russia since taking office are testimony to that. Read more

Bulgaria’s decision to scrap the part-completed Belene nuclear power plant, one of the largest Russian-built energy projects in Europe, signals a change of emphasis in Sofia’s energy policy. And the fact that Russia’s Atomstroyexport has accepted the decision suggests Moscow is prioritising the controversial South Stream pipeline through south  eastern Europe ahead of other interests in the region. Read more