MOSCOW, May 24 (UPI) -- Moscow wants the European Union to view the proposed South Stream natural gas pipeline as a part of its transnational pipelines, the energy minister said.
Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said he would ask European leaders Wednesday in Brussels to consider South Stream a continuation of existing networks so third parties are prohibited from accessing the new pipeline, Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti reports.
"We create large trans-border gas pipelines but can't sign long-term contracts although the Europeans themselves are not against long-term agreements," he was quoted as saying. "We propose that the EU consider South Stream as a continuation of our trans-border trunk gas pipelines and ban the access of third parties to it."
About 80 percent of the Russian natural gas bound for European markets transits Ukraine. Acrimony between the countries, however, exposes vulnerabilities in conventional routes, prompting Moscow to pursue alternative delivery solutions.
South Stream is planned to move more than 2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas to Europe per year after it passes through the Turkish waters of the Black Sea. Gas flows are expected by 2015.