KIEV, June 3 (RIA Novosti) — Ukraine's Acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk urged the European Union on Tuesday to block Russian South Stream gas pipeline, currently under construction and expected to transfer Russian oil and gas to central and southern Europe via Black Sea bypassing Ukraine.
"We call on the European Union to block the South Stream. Ukraine is a reliable transit country, we have fulfilled and will continue to fulfil our obligations," Yatsenyuk told the parliament.
Aiming to diversify Russia's gas supply routes to Europe due to Ukrainian gas debt of $3.5 billion, which Russia fears may lead to possible transit disruptions, Russian gas giant Gazprom launched the pipeline construction in the Russian city of Anapa in 2012 and expects to complete the first line in late 2015. In total, the 15.5-billion-euro project will include four 930-kilometer long parallel lines.
Commercial deliveries through this pipeline to Europe are expected to begin in the first quarter of 2016, with the pipeline becoming fully operational in 2018.
Russia annually pumps about 100 billion cubic meters of gas to European countries via Ukraine, which makes up 80 percent of its total gas supplies to Europe.
Earlier Russia initiated legal proceedings in the World Trading Organization against the EU’s Third Energy Package, under which the owners of line pipes located in the region cannot be the companies that deal with gas production. The initiative creates serious obstacles for the construction of South Stream.
On Sunday, EU's Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said a political solution to the construction of the South Stream was impossible unless Russia recognized the legitimacy of the government in Kiev. Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier that Russia respected the will of Ukrainian people and was ready for dialogue with the newly elected leader.
Putin said last month Russia was planning to follow through with the project, as well as with Nord Stream, and if the EU interfered with the latter, Russia would consider building the pipeline via countries that were not part of the EU.
Nord Stream’s twin 1,224-kilometer Opal pipeline runs along the Baltic Sea bed from Portovaya Bay in Russia to Lubmin on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast, with an annual capacity of 27.5 billion cubic meters of gas. When fully operational, the integrated twin pipeline system has the capacity to transport 55 billion cubic meters of gas a year from Russia’s massive gas fields to the EU.