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Russia, Italy agree to build new gas pipeline across Black Sea-1

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(Recasts lead and para 2, adds details from para 3)

ROME, June 23 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and Italy signed Saturday a memorandum on the construction of a new natural gas pipeline from Russia to Europe across the Black Sea.

The memorandum was signed in Rome by representatives of Russian energy giant Gazprom and Italy's ENI in the presence of Russian Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko and Italian Economic Development Minister Pierluigi Bersani.

The pipeline, which will be called South Stream, will stretch for 900 km (560 miles) across the Black Sea from Russia to Bulgaria at a maximum depth of over 2 km (over 1 mile).

Speaking at a press conference in Rome, Alexander Medvedev, Gazprom's deputy CEO, said the new pipeline's estimated annual capacity will be about 30 billion cubic meters.

"This [the memorandum] is another real step in the implementation of Gazprom's strategy to diversify routes of Russian natural gas supplies to European countries and a considerable contribution to the energy security in Europe," Medvedev said.

Ministers Khristenko and Bersani highly appraised Gazprom and ENI's initiative and pledged in a statement to "provide favorable conditions for economically effective implementation of the project."

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