BELGRADE, Serbia, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- The Serbian government said it passed a measure Thursday that gives Gazprom and state-owned Srbijagas access to land to build the South Stream gas pipeline.
The $2.3 billion Serbian section of the natural gas pipeline was described by Serbian lawmakers as "the first and unique project of this kind and size," Bloomberg News reports. That status means a South Stream joint venture may claim eminent domain over land along the 290-mile route of the pipeline to facilitate its construction.
South Stream would add diversity to a Serbian energy sector that depends on Hungary and Ukraine for natural gas. The project is part of Gazprom's efforts to add diversity to its export options as about 20 percent of Russian gas for Europe heads through Ukraine's Soviet-era transit network.
Serbia can expect around $267 million in transit fees from its section of the pipeline, Bloomberg adds.
Gazprom officials in January courted members of the pipeline manufacturing sector to discuss the construction of projects like South Stream. The pipeline is expected to go into service by 2015.