Gazprom trying to get RWE on board gas pipeline: report

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Russian gas behemoth Gazprom is trying to get German power company RWE to join the South Stream gas pipeline project, a press report said on Monday, raising the stakes for a rival European programme.

RWE, Germany's second-biggest energy company, is considering Gazprom's offer, business daily Handelsblatt reported, but a spokesman for the group declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

RWE is already involved with another pipeline project, Nabucco, which was designed to bring natural gas from the Caucasus region of central Asia to western Europe via Turkey and the Balkans from 2014/2015.

"We are true to Nabucco and right now do not see any other project that makes as much sense," Handelsblatt quoted RWE executive Stefan Judisch as saying.

The German company could conceivably participate in both programmes, as Austrian energy group OMV does.

Gazprom has also persuaded Eni of Italy and EDF of France to sign on to the South Stream project, which would run 3,600 kilometers (2,250 miles) from Russia under the Black Sea and through the Balkans from 2015.

Gazprom wants to avoid Ukraine and Belarus, because conflicts with those countries over transit fees have led to damaging supply cuts to western Europe in the past few years.

One of Nabucco's goals meanwhile is to be independent of Russian influence.

© 2010 AFP

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