Gazprom wants BASF in South Stream pipeline: report

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Russia's Gazprom wants German chemical giant and partner BASF to sign on to the South Stream gas pipeline so as to preserve Russian influence in the energy sector, a press report said Wednesday.

Gazprom has offered a 10-20 percent stake in the project to Wintershall, BASF's hydrocarbon subsidiary, in a deal worth several billion euros (dollars), the business daily Handelsblatt reported.

Talks are at an early stage and neither side has commented officially, it added.

Gazprom and Wintershall already work together on gas projects in Russia and on the North Stream gas pipeline.

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

Gazprom has got Austrian energy group OMV, EDF of France and Eni of Italy to join the project.

Nabucco would cross Turkey and the Balkans from 2014-15 and avoid Russia.

Handelsblatt said Gazprom was also trying to get the second biggest German energy company, RWE, to jump ship and join the South Stream consortium as well.

Gazprom has denied that is the case.

© 2010 AFP

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