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Moscow confirms status of South Stream

New project to replace it dubbed Turkish Stream.

By Daniel J. Graeber

MOSCOW, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- A gas pipeline dubbed Turkish Stream will be built by Russian energy company Gazprom instead of the South Stream project for Europe, an official said Monday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said during an early December meeting in Ankara the long-planned South Stream natural gas pipeline "will not be carried out."

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South Stream had an optimum capacity of 2.2 trillion cubic feet per year. It would've stretched across the Black Sea to Bulgaria and then north to European markets.

"The South Stream pipeline will not be constructed and we will be implementing another project, which will get its name in the nearest future," Gazprom Deputy Chief Executive Officer Alexander Medvedev said. "Our partners in Turkey proposed the name of the Turkish Stream."

South Stream was Gazprom's answer to political and economic issues in Ukraine, through which Gazprom sends the bulk of its natural gas to Europe. Gazprom in 2006 and 2009 shut the tap on Ukraine in response to contractual issues and ongoing crises have underscored some of the issues with sending gas through the Soviet-era pipeline network in Ukraine.

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Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said there are no talks under way to consider gas deliveries through Ukraine beyond 2019.

"We believe that up until 2019, the current contract will be in force," he said. "What happens to transit gas after 2019 is not being discussed today."

Austrian energy company OMV, a South Stream consortium member, said it viewed the recent announcements as political in nature.

Novak said the pipeline decision was final.

Members of the European Parliament in September passed a resolution calling on member states to cancel planned energy sector agreements with Russia, including the South Stream gas pipeline.

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