KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, June 5 (UPI) -- A final investment decision on the South Stream natural gas pipeline for Europe is expected by November, a Gazprom official said from Malaysia.
Alexei Miller, the top executive at Russian energy company Gazprom, met on the sidelines of the World Gas Conference in Malaysia with Marcel Kramer, chief executive officer of the South Stream pipeline consortium.
"The parties discussed the progress with the South Stream project as well as the action plan for its implementation before the year end," Gazprom said. The executives, the company added, "reviewed the results of the action plan aimed at adopting the final investment decision on the project by mid-November 2012."
South Stream is part of an effort by Russia to diversify natural gas export options to Europe. Contractual disputes with Ukraine, which hosts the bulk of Russian natural gas exports, makes conventional routes risk.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said during a conference with European leaders this week that construction would start "at the end of the year," reports Tass.
First gas is expected through the pipeline, which would pass through Turkish territory of the Black Sea, by 2015.