South Stream should run through Ukraine: Yanukovych

16th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych proposed on Friday that the Russia-led South Stream gas pipeline designed to run under the Black Sea should cross his country's territory to cut costs.

"The South Stream should run overland across southern Ukraine: this project would be much cheaper than the South Stream currently under consideration," Yanykovych told a conference in the Black Sea resort town of Yalta.

"We are offering our partners in Europe and Russia a flexible cooperation approach," Yanukovych said.

The South Stream project, designed to compete with the EU's Nabucco pipeline that would reduce European dependency on Russian energy, would run 3,600 kilometres (2,250 miles) under the Black Sea and through the Balkans by 2015.

Estimates for the pipeline's construction have been repeatedly revised. The latest estimate released by Russian gas giant Gazprom stands at $21.5 billion.

A quarter of the gas consumed in the EU comes from Russia and around 80 percent of that goes through Ukraine.

Russia and Ukraine have over the past few years been locked in a series of gas price disputes that interrupted energy supplies to Europe and are currently embroiled in a fresh disagreement.

The Ukrainian president is expected to visit Russia on a working visit on September 24, the Kremlin said without providing further details.

Earlier this month Russia began pumping the first gas through the Nord Stream pipeline that will also bypass Ukraine by taking gas directly to Germany across the Baltic Sea.

© 2011 AFP

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