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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Serbs Await Decision from Gazprom on South Stream

BELGRADE -- Serbia's plans for expanding its gas infrastructure depend on whether Gazprom includes it in its South Stream gas pipeline project, a Serbian Energy Ministry source said Friday.

"All our plans are on hold until Gazprom decides the South Stream pipeline route," the source said. "All we can do is keep our fingers crossed and wait."

Gazprom and Italy's Eni announced in June the plan to build the pipeline to take 30 billion cubic meters of Russian gas a year to Europe.

"If they choose Serbia, then we will not waste effort on a smaller local pipeline," the source said, speaking after Energy Minister Aleksandar Popovic ended a visit to Moscow where he discussed cooperation with Gazprom.

Serbia initially planned an 80-kilometer gas pipeline between Nis in the south and Dimitrovgrad, on the Bulgarian border.

But late last year, its gas monopoly Srbijagas and Gazprom signed a memorandum to study the construction of an $800 million gas pipeline stretching from Bulgaria via Serbia and Croatia to Italy, that would in part run along the Nis-Dimitrovgrad route.

Serbia had hoped the segment through its territory, with a capacity of 20 billion cubic meters a year, would ultimately be linked to the Blue Stream pipeline from Russia to Turkey under the Black Sea.

If joining South Stream fails, Serbia will offer Gazprom to explore other business alternatives, including the construction of underground gas reservoirs, the source said.

Serbia has started pumping gas into its sole, 800-million-cubic-meter gas storage unit at Banatski Dvor, 40 kilometers from the Romanian border, but plans to explore other sites, the source added.