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From our correspondent in Kiev

Ukraine and Romania may block South Stream project

de Armand Gosu, transl. C. Ionescu     HotNews.ro
Duminică, 2 martie 2008, 14:57 English | Regional Europe

Ukraine may impede the South Stream project of building a pipeline due to cross the Black Sea to would allow Gazprom to export natural gas to Europe by avoiding Ukrainian territory, Ukrainian media report. Several Ukrainian political analysts who attended the EU-Ukraine Forum in Kiev recently noted in private talks that Romania and Ukraine may create a tandem to block the South Stream project.

According to them, it would be very important for authorities in Kiev to join the position should Ukraine initiate it.

The Kiev Government, some Ukrainian analysts commented, would make a decision on the issue once Gazprom cuts natural gas deliveries to Ukraine by 25% as it has threatened already, on Monday, March 3, 10 a.m.

Several articles published by Ukrainian media over the past several days mention Article 79 of the UN Convention on maritime law, according to which the setting of a route for future pipelines must be done through consultations with riveran states.

For now, Gazprom and Eni, the initiators of the South Stream project, have not received the approval of either Bucharest or Kiev for the route of the future pipeline.

Russia's deputy energy industry minister Anatoly Yanovski confirmed for Ukrainian media that the approval of Kiev was needed for the building of the South Stream.  That is, the two parties must agree on an environmental expertise to serve as a basis for the approval process for the construction of the pipeline.

A similar expertise would have to be negotiated with Bucharest as well.

The lack of dialogue with Ukraine and Romania on the issue is even harder to explain as Gazprom already has quite an experience with the complications affecting efforts to obtain the approvals from riveran states at the Baltic Sea, for the Nord Stream project. Not even Sweden and Finland with which Russia says it has good relations have approved the project initiated by Gazprom and E.ON Ruhrgas in 2005.

The speculations of Ukrainian media appear at a time when Gazprom and the Government in Kiev face yet another natural gas crisis. The Gazprom spokesman threatened Ukraine on Friday that Gazprom would cut deliveries to Ukraine by 25% until the Ukrainian government fully pays its debts to the Russian group.

On February 8, the debts amounted to 1.5 billion US dollars.























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