Russian gas giant Gazprom and Slovenia's Geoplin Plinovodi signed a deal on Tuesday to set up a joint venture to build the Slovenian section of the South Stream gas pipeline.
The pipeline project is designed to diversify supply routes for Russian gas and will stretch to Bulgaria's Black Sea coast and then on to Italy and Austria.
The companies' chief executives, Alexei Miller and Marjan Eberlinc, signed the agreement during Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's Tuesday visit to Slovenia.
Miller said Gazprom estimated the Slovenian section of the pipeline at 1 billion euros, adding that a feasibility study would be ready by June 2011.
The sides also oversaw the lifting of restrictions of 8 billion cubic meters a year on the capacity of the Slovenian section of South Stream.
The 15.5-billion marine section of the South Stream project is to have a capacity of 63 billion cubic meters a year, and to go via Turkey, which has not given its agreement yet.
The land section of the pipeline will go across Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Greece, Slovenia, Croatia and Austria, with whom Russia has already signed intergovernmental agreements.
The pipeline is to be launched in 2015.
LJUBLJANA, March 22 (RIA Novosti)