OMV, Gazprom may resume Black Sea gas pipeline extension

REUTERS
VIENNA
Published

The Austrian energy group OMV and Russian Gazprom have recently announced that they are in talks to revive the natural gas pipeline project which will connect Russia to central and southern Europe via the Black Sea. If the project is realized, it will be an extension of the TurkStream natural gas pipeline project.

According to a report in Austrian newspaper Der Standard based on sources close to the issue, Austria's Chancellor Christian Kern and Russian President Vladimir Putin came together in St. Petersburg, where Kern attended an economic forum this month.

It was announced on June 2 that OMV and Gazprom signed an agreement in St. Petersburg on the general outline of cooperation in order to "develop the necessary natural gas transmission infrastructure for the supply of natural gas to central and southeastern Europe."A relevant source told Reuters that it is too early to talk about project costs and what investments will be made. In the event of such revival, this project could increase the importance of the OVM's Baumgarten gas distribution center in southern Austria.

Der Standard stated that the project will be an extension of the TurkStream natural gas pipeline project, which Gazprom plans to complete by the end of 2019. The expanded line will allow Russian gas to be pumped to Italy, which currently receives gas from Baumgarten through TAG and SOL pipelines. Alternatively, Russian gas could be transported from Turkey's western side to Italy through Greece. Neither OMV nor Kern's spokespersons - nor Gazprom - have commented on the matter.

Russia canceled the South Stream natural gas pipeline project, which was supposed to carry natural gas to Bulgaria through a sub-sea pipeline, in 2014 because of objections from the EU on competition grounds. The dispute between Brussels and Moscow followed Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and the implementation of Western economic sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine conflict.

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