MOSCOW, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- If Europe wants the Nabucco gas pipeline, Europeans should build it, though Russian gas giant Gazprom is loyal to its clients, the company's top executive said.
Europe is pursuing the Nabucco natural gas pipeline to break the Russian grip on the regional energy sector. Moscow, meanwhile, is trying to diversify its export options by building its Nord Stream gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea and the South Stream pipeline through southern Europe.
As much as 80 percent of Russia's gas for Europe heads through the Soviet-era gas transit system in Ukraine. Disputes between Kiev and Moscow have exposed vulnerabilities on that transit option for Russia and the Europeans.
Alexei Miller, the top executive at Gazprom, told German news magazine Der Spiegel that diversification was the best strategy no matter what.
"As the Russian proverb says: 'Don't put all your eggs in one basket,'" he was quoted as saying.
Miller said his company has nothing against Nabucco despite courting the government of gas-rich Azerbaijan. Critics complain that if Gazprom gets it way with South Stream, there will be few alternative gas suppliers left to fill the Nabucco pipeline.
"If the Europeans want a Nabucco pipeline, they should build it. We have nothing against the idea," he said. "Nabucco is their problem. Our job is to deliver our gas to our customers as stipulated in our contracts."