MOSCOW, May 17 (UPI) -- Russian natural gas company Gazprom said April contracts with Bulgarian shareholders meant the South Stream natural gas pipeline was moving ahead as planned.
Bulgarian shareholders in the South Stream natural gas projects approved a contractor's agreement for planning, environmental impact assessment and project documents preparation for the country's leg of the pipeline.
Gazprom Chairman Alexei Miller met with Bulgarian Energy Minister Delyan Dobrev in Moscow to discuss the natural gas pipeline. Both sides, said Gazprom, took note of contractual agreements.
"The meeting participants underlined that the project was being implemented within the preset deadlines," the Russian company stated.
South Stream is meant to diversify Russian gas export options to avoid politically sensitive territory in Ukraine. The pipeline is designed to carry as much as 2.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas to Europe each year.
Projects developers involved with Nabucco West, a scaled down version of South Stream's European counterpart Nabucco, and the South East Europe Pipeline submitted their proposals to the BP-led consortium managing the Shah Deniz natural gas field in Azerbaijan this week.
Construction on South Stream could begin in December. The Shah Deniz group is expected to make a final investment decision by 2013.