MOSCOW, April 20 (UPI) -- Ukraine has lost its significance as a transit nation for Russian natural gas bound for European consumers, the head of Gazprom said.
Alexei Miller, the top executive at Russian energy company Gazprom, briefed Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin on the Nord Stream and South Stream natural gas pipelines for Europe.
Nord Stream is moving natural gas through the Baltic Sea to Germany. The pipeline consortium announced the deployment of the second leg of the twin pipeline system was ahead of schedule.
Both lines are part of Russian plans to diversify its gas transit options. Contract disputes with Ukraine, which hosts the bulk of Russian natural gas meant for Europe, has exposed vulnerabilities in current transit routes.
"As for reducing transit risks, as we have repeatedly noted, with the launch of the Nord Stream, Ukraine has lost its role and significance as an exclusive transit country for Russian gas supplied to Europe," Miller said.
Nord Stream, once fully operational, will transport around 1.9 trillion cubic feet of Russian gas each year to European consumers for at least 50 years.
Construction on South Stream, which is planned through southern Europe, is to start in December.