Greek Minister Backs South Stream Project

ATHENS -- Greece has agreed to join the Kremlin-backed South Stream gas pipeline project, further boosting energy ties with Russia, Greek Development Minister Christos Folias said Tuesday.

The pipeline, which will be jointly built by Gazprom and Italy's Eni, will eventually take 30 billion cubic meters of Russian gas per year to southern Europe, with Greece becoming a transit state on the southern arm of the pipeline pumping gas to Italy.

Analysts have said the project, which aims to link Gazprom's Siberian gas fields with Europe and is seen as a competitor to the EU- and U.S.-backed Nabucco pipeline, will cost around 10 billion euros ($15.82 billion).

"We have agreed to be part of the South Stream project," Folias said. "We are now discussing technical details to formulate a document that we can then sign. The political will is there from both sides. That is a given."

Folias said he did not view the long-stalled Nabucco pipeline, designed to eventually pump 25-30 bcm a year from Turkey to Austria, as a competitor to the South Stream project, which will run from Russia via a 900-kilometer underwater pipeline across the Black Sea.

"I don't want to see them as athletes competing against each other," he said. "I would say they are complementing each other and are offering Europe multiple energy providers, which is good."