Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived Tuesday in Austria.
Robert Lechner, a spokesman for Austrian energy company OMV, said he expects his company will sign a shareholders' agreement on the pipeline with Russia energy company Gazprom.
The Austrian section of the pipeline is 164 miles long.
"It is expected that late in 2016 [or] early in 2017 the first gas will reach [the Austrian gas distribution node in] Baumgarten," Lechner said Tuesday.
In May, Gazprom said it signed the necessary contracts needed to start construction of the onshore section of the pipeline later this year. South Stream has an optimum capacity of 2.2 trillion cubic feet per year.
European lawmakers in April passed a resolution, however, to reconsider the pipeline. Some members of the European community have balked on the pipeline's prospects in light of the decision.
The Serbian and Bulgarian governments have put the project on hold. The original concept calls for a pipeline through the Black Sea to Bulgaria and then north through Slovenia.
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