BERLIN, May 19 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will propose including the South Stream gas pipeline to pump natural gas from Russia to the Balkans and onto Europe in a list of EU priority projects, a Gazprom deputy CEO said Tuesday.
"We are drafting an application for inclusion of the South Stream project into the list of EU priority projects, and we see no grounds why this application should be rejected," Alexander Medvedev told journalists during a break at an international energy conference in Berlin.
Medvedev said the Western-backed Nabucco project had been included in the list, but that Gazprom did not consider it a rival.
"We will, together with the EU, work on this project [South Stream], which will have a positive effect on Europe's energy security," he said.
Asked whether France's GDF Suez could join the project, the deputy CEO said the participants had already been determined.
"On the underwater section, this is the Eni company, and at this stage, we are not considering expanding the list of participants at land or at sea," he said.
Medvedev earlier told a news conference that GDF Suez would become a shareholder in the Nord Stream project to pump natural gas from Russia to Germany and onto Europe via the Baltic Sea.
"Gaz de France will join Nord Stream before the end of this summer," he said.
Nord Stream is currently run by Gazprom, with a 51% stake, Germany's Wintershall Holding and E.ON Ruhrgas, holding 20% each, and Dutch Gasunie with 9%.
Nord Stream is due to eventually pump 55 billion cu m of gas annually. The first 1,200-km leg is to be commissioned in 2010.
Ex-German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, the head of the Nord Stream project operator shareholders' committee, said on Tuesday EU members interested in stable energy supplies should not criticize the Nord Stream project but participate in its implementation instead.
A number of countries, including Estonia, Poland, Sweden and Finland, are against Nord Stream, saying it would be environmentally dangerous. Certain experts say Poland, in particular, is worried about its possible loss of profit as a transit country of Russian gas.
"If there are questions in essence, we resolve them. For example, we have allocated 100 million euros for an environmental survey of the Baltic Sea," Schroeder said.
Rainer Seele, chairman of the large German gas distributing concern, Wingas, said the interests of external investors, including Russia's Gazprom, should also be taken into account when developing a European energy security concept.
"The interests of those planning to invest in the European Union should be taken into account here. Only acting together with Russia and not against it, can Europe reliably and on a long-term basis provide for its demand for imported gas," Seele said Tuesday.
He also said there was unlikely to be any other gas producer apart from Russia that would be ready to commit to long-term agreements to supply gas to the European market.
Europe has expressed concerns about being dependent on Russia, which supplies a quarter of its natural gas needs. Calls for diversified supplies intensified following a recent bitter price dispute between Russia and Ukraine, when Moscow cut off gas to Ukraine, affecting consumers across Europe.
Moscow has argued, however, that South Stream and Nord Stream would cut EU dependence on transit states like Ukraine and improve European energy security.