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    Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak

    Russia to Remain Reliable Supplier of Natural Gas to Europe: Minister

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    The Russian Energy Minister that Russia will fulfill all contractual obligations on natural gas deliveries to European customers, despite closing the South Stream pipeline project.

    ANKARA, December 1 (Sputnik) — Russia will continue fulfilling all contractual obligations on natural gas deliveries to European customers, despite scrapping the South Stream pipeline project, Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Monday.

    "All contracts, as well as intergovernmental agreements, remain in effect. The problem is that the European Commission is making all possible efforts to prevent the implementation of the South Stream project," Novak, who accompanies President Vladimir Putin on an official visit to Turkey, told reporters in Ankara.

    "I think that Russia will continue fulfilling all its contracts. In any case, we will remain a reliable supplier of gas to European countries," Novak said.

    Putin said earlier on Monday that Russia was not willing to continue, implementing the project in light of the European Commission's "non-constructive" stance on the matter.

    The president added that Russia could create an additional gas hub in Turkey, on the border with Greece, for the gas consumers in Southern Europe.

    The European Commission has taken a critical stance on the South Stream project, which bypasses Ukraine, claiming that construction of the pipeline violated the EU Third Energy Package. According to the package, it is illegal to own a pipeline and produce the natural gas that flows through it at the same time. Moscow has insisted that the construction of the pipeline does not contradict the regulations.

    Gazprom announced the construction of a pipeline across the Black Sea to reduce the possibility of unreliable Russian gas passage to central and southern Europe through Ukraine in 2012. South Stream was expected to be fully operational by 2018.

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