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Macedonia hopes to end talks with Russia by the end of the year so that it can join the Russian-led South Stream gas pipeline project - but many details about Macedonia's participation remain unclear.
Vladimir Putin and Nikola Gruevski | Photo by: gov.mk
Macedonia hopes to start talks next months and agree on pipeline details before December, when construction of the South Stream is set to kick off.
After meeting President Vladimir Putin during a visit to Russia last week, Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski spoke on a positive note.
“The implementation of the gas infrastructure project in Macedonia was positively evaluated. Hopefully, we will manage to launch the project by the end of the year," Gruevski said.
The South Stream pipeline will transport Russian natural gas through the Black Sea to Bulgaria and then further to Italy and Austria, transiting several Balkan countries on its way. The project is scheduled for completion in 2015.
The Russian pipeline is seen as rival to the Nabucco project, planned by the European Union and the United States as a way of reducing European energy dependence on Russia.
Konstantin Dimitrov, head of the Macedonian Centre for Energy Efficiency, said many details about Macedonia's possible participation in South Stream remain unknown.
“It is still an open question whether the [Macedonian] section will be designed to satisfy the needs of Macedonia alone, or whether it will continue to Albania and Kosovo," he said. "In that case it would have have double the capacity,” Dimitrov added.
He estimates that the country will need to spend some €300 million on building up its gas infrastructure for such a project.
Macedonia needs several billion cubic meters of gas each year. A partially completed gas pipeline supplies only a small portion of this, with a capacity of 800 million cubic meters. The missing 1.2 billion cubic meters could be covered by the South Stream project, energy experts say.
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