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Macedonia lobbies for South Stream role

SKOPJE, Macedonia, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Macedonia could emerge to play a role in Russia's plans to build the South Stream gas pipeline through southern Europe, the country's finance minister said.

Macedonian Finance Minister Zoran Stavrevski said during talks with delegates from Russian gas company Gazprom that his country could play a role in the South Stream natural gas pipeline for Europe.

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South Stream would divide into two pipelines -- one to Greece and the other through the Balkans -- after it passes through the Turkish waters of the Black Sea. The project would carry roughly 2.2 trillion cubic feet of gas per year when it goes into service by 2015.

Stavrevski told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that the project was "crucial" for the economic development of his country.

Leonid Chugunov, a project director for Gazprom, said the South Stream partners could spend the next year deciding if the route for the pipeline would include Macedonia.

"We have come to a joint conclusion that, due to the rising gas demand, we need to consider the option of the gas pipeline transiting Macedonia," he was quoted as saying.

Technical and economic studies for the South Stream pipeline are expected by 2011.

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