Gazprom has signed a memorandum with Gaz de France Suez on the French utility's participation in the Nord Stream gas pipeline project, the companies said in a joint statement on Monday.
The deal, which will give GDF Suez a 9% stake in the project to build a pipeline along the bed of the Baltic Sea, is expected to be closed by April, the statement said.
The 1,220 km (758 mile)-long Nord Stream pipeline will eventually pump 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year to Western Europe, bypassing traditional transit nations.
Nord Stream will have two pipelines, each with a capacity of 27.5 billion cubic meters a year, on the Baltic Sea floor stretching from Russia's Vyborg near the Finnish border to Greifswald on Germany's coast.
Construction of the first pipe is to begin in April, with pumping of gas expected to start in late 2011, while the second is to come online in 2012.
Gazprom currently holds a 51% stake in Nord Stream AG, the project operator. Germany's Wintershall Holding and E.ON Ruhrgas control 20% each, and the remaining 9% belongs to Holland's Gasunie.
GDF Suez is expected to join Nord Stream through the reduction of the stakes held by Wintershall Holding and E.ON Ruhrgas.
The Shtokman gas condensate field in the Russian sector of the Barents Sea, with estimated reserves of 3.8 trillion cubic meters, is to supply natural gas for the Nord Stream project.
The statement said gas supplies for GDF Suez via the Nord Stream could reach 1.5 billion cubic meters annually from 2015.
MOSCOW, March 1 (RIA Novosti)