MOSCOW, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- The South Stream pipeline for Russian gas through southern Europe is a competitive part of the region's energy security plans, a Gazprom official said.
South Stream is part of a Gazprom effort to add more diversity to its gas transmission sector for Europe. Most of Russia's natural gas for Europe runs through a Soviet-era transmission system in Ukraine and geopolitical issues there make conventional routes risky for both Gazprom and its European consumers.
Leonid Chugunov, a project manager at Gazprom, said the project is a step ahead of its competitors.
"We are absolutely confident of the competitive ability and economic efficiency of the project," he said in a statement Wednesday. "We have an abundant resource base, necessary funds, the experience in delivering such construction projects."
Gazprom plans to send natural gas through the 1,500-mile pipeline by 2018. It's designed to have an annual capacity of 2.2 trillion cubic feet and would run through the Black Sea and then north from Hungary.
By the end of 2019, European customers will start getting natural gas deliveries from Azerbaijan through portions of the so-called Southern Corridor, a European pipeline network meant to break Russia's grip on the regional energy sector.