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    Russia does not plan to quit South Stream project - energy minister

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    "South Stream is an alternative an additional way of supplying Russian gas to European consumers, and here we can only talk about an alternative offshore route of the pipeline," Shmatko said.

    MOSCOW, March 17 (RIA Novosti) - Russia has no plans to abandon the South Stream gas pipeline project to carry gas to Europe under the Black Sea, Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said on Thursday.

    "We are not wording the issue in such a fundamental way," Shmatko told reporters.

    Kommersant business daily earlier on Thursday quoted First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin as saying that Russia is looking into ways to lower the South Stream cost or replace it with a project to supply liquefied natural gas to Europe.

    "South Stream is an alternative an additional way of supplying Russian gas to European consumers, and here we can only talk about an alternative offshore route of the pipeline," Shmatko said.

    The capacity of the 900-kilometer pipeline, which was planned to become operational in 2015, is intended to eventually reach 63 billion cubic meters per year.

    Shmatko said the ministry was analyzing different ways of supplying gas to Europe under orders from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

    "We'll have several ready alternative routes of supplying gas directly to European consumers, and this is what our job implies. Currently, supplies of liquefied natural gas from the Yamal Peninsula seem very promising," Shmatko said.

    Shmatko said earlier on Thursday the alternative variants included shuttle supplies of cooled gas within the Black Sea basin and shuttle LNG supplies within the Black and the Mediterranean seas.

    He said that the construction of an LNG plant on the Black Sea coast with supplies only within the Black Sea basin was the most costly, but it could be more economically efficient if the gas were sold globally.

    MOSCOW, March 17 (RIA Novosti)

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