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South Stream Pipeline Is Quietly Back On. Gazprom to Complete the Section Through Serbia by Year End

Gazprom HQ in Saint Pete

Cancelled in 2014 by Moscow over Bulgaria's US-mandated obstruction the "South Stream" pipeline is now in fact back on. Gazprom is planning an extension or second branch of Turkish Stream that will run from the southern end of the Balkans all the way to Austria. And the Russian-gas giant is so confident this will indeed happen that it's going to start building the middle section through Serbia right now, before similar deals with other transit countries have been finalized: 

Russian energy giant Gazprom will soon start building infrastructure in Serbia for the Turkish Stream gas pipeline. This was announced by the head of the company Alexey Miller. He was in the Russian delegation headed by President Vladimir Putin, who was visiting Belgrade.

Vladimir Putin has already stated that his country is willing to invest a billion and $ 400 million for the development of infrastructure in Serbia to move there to the Turkish Stream line. In front of Russian television, Gazprom boss Alexey Miller announced that the linear part of the Serbian section of the pipeline will be completed by the end of this year. Its length will be 403 kilometers. The gas pipeline will pass from the Serb-Bulgarian to the Serbian-Hungarian border.

Russians and Europeans will pretend this is not the canceled South Stream but an extension of Turkish Stream, but in fact it's one and the same pipeline. Only where originally a branch of "South Stream" would go to Turkey, now a branch of "Turk Stream" will go to Europe:

Serbia aims to complete the construction of its section of TurkStream pipeline for transit of Russian natural gas to Europe by December 15, 2019, the head of state-owned monopoly Srbijagas, Dusan Bajatovic, said on Monday.

Srbijagas is in talks with financial institutions for securing financing for the project, which is expected to start in the second half of March, Bajatovic said in a video file posted on the YouTube channel of Serbian public broadcaster RTS. 

Serbia's Gastrans, the company in charge of the project, has already secured 300 million euro ($341 million) of financing from its shareholders for the construction of the pipeline, Bajatovic said.

Gastrans is 100%-owned by Swiss-based South Stream Serbia, according to data from Serbia's commercial register. Russia's Gazprom owns a 51% stake in South Stream Serbia, while Srbijagas holds the remaining 49%, according to Gazprom data.

Russia's Gazprom plans to build a string of TurkStream for transit of gas to Europe from Turkey via Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary. The TurkStream offshore gas pipeline, stretching 930 km across the Black Sea from Russia to Turkey, will consist of two parallel strings with annual throughput capacity of 15.75 billion cubic metres of gas each. One string is intended for consumers in Turkey, while the second will carry gas to customers in Europe.

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The US is threatening even mighty Germany with sanctions over Nord Stream. Washington will no doubt again ramp up pressure on the much weaker Balkan statelets, but Russia seems confident that this time it won't work.

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