MOSCOW, November 13 (RIA Novosti) - Russian energy giant Gazprom and Slovenia have signed a final deal to build the Slovenian stretch of the South Stream gas pipeline, Gazprom said in a statement on Tuesday.
The deal was signed by Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller and Slovenia’s Plinovodi d.o.o. General Director Marjan Eberlinc in the presence of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Gazprom has previously signed similar deals with Hungary and Serbia.
The South Stream pipeline will transport up to 63 billion cubic meters of natural gas to central and southern Europe along the Black Sea seabed, diversifying Russian gas routes away from transit countries such as Ukraine.
Following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s instruction, Gazprom has accelerated the South Stream pipeline's construction schedule, with work now to begin before the end of 2012.
The pipeline’s commercial deliveries of natural gas to Europe are expected to start in the first quarter of 2016 and the project is set to reach its designed capacity of 63 billion cu m in 2018. The project’s cost, including the pipeline’s overland sections, is estimated at $16 billion.