Macedonia in South Stream gas pipeline: minister

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Macedonia will be hooked up to the planned South Stream pipeline that will transport Russian gas to Western Europe, the Balkan country's economy minister said Friday.

"It is important that Macedonia will very soon become a part of South Stream," Economy Minister Zoran Stavreski told reporters after a meeting with representatives of the Russian gas giant Gazprom.

Stavreski said "several options" had been discussed, in particular whether the pipeline would be a "branch or a transit line", but that the final decision would depend from gas needs of other Balkan countries neighbouring Macedonia.

Leonid Chugunov, the head of Gazprom's project management department, said "at least one year" was needed for "technical preparations" for the project.

"After that, it will be known what kind of link will be made," he said.

South Stream aims to ship 63 billion cubic metres of Russian gas to Europe annualy through a 3,600-kilometre (2,250-mile) pipeline under the Black Sea to the Balkans from the end of 2015.

© 2010 AFP

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