MOSCOW, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Russian gas monopoly Gazprom said it felt confident about the role French energy company EDF could play in the South Stream natural gas pipeline for Europe.
Alexei Miller, the top executive at Gazprom, welcomed a delegation from EDF to discuss entry into the shareholding scheme for the South Stream consortium.
Both parties, Gazprom said in a statement, expressed "their content" with the mechanisms needed to expand EDF's role in the project.
"It is due to our joint efforts that South Stream will soon turn into a state-of-the-art, reliable and high-tech gas transmission system," said Miller in his statement.
A memorandum signed with Gazprom during the summer says EDF will formally join the project before the end of the year with a stake "not less than 10 percent."
Moscow aims to diversify its gas export options to the European community after diplomatic rows with Ukraine over its gas transit system exposed vulnerabilities in the regional gas sector.
South Stream would branch into two pipelines -- one to Greece and the other through the Balkans -- after it passes through the Turkish waters of the Black Sea.
Technical and economic studies for the pipeline are expected by 2011 and first gas is expected through the pipeline by 2015.