MOSCOW, June 26 (UPI) -- New corridors along the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea to European markets should be in service by 2019, Russia's Gazprom said.
"The successful track record on the Baltic Sea will help us to optimize construction costs and timeframe," he said Friday. "Both lines of the Nord Stream-2 will be commissioned by 2019 year-end."
The first leg of the pipeline system went into service in 2011. British energy company BP a year after the pipeline went into service said it was considering linking the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline to British ports.
Gazprom officials met in early June with representatives from Austrian energy company OMV, a member of the Nord Stream pipeline consortium. Both sides signed a memorandum of understanding to examine the possible construction of two additional lines to the existing Nord Stream network.
OMV is a partner in the twin Nord Stream pipeline running through the Baltic Sea to Germany. The system can carry as much as 1.9 trillion cubic feet of gas per year.
Nord Stream is among Gazprom's options to avoid geopolitically sensitive territory in Ukraine. Russia meets about 20 percent of the European demand for natural gas, though more than half of those reserves have run through the Soviet-era pipeline network in Ukraine.
Miller said the new lines would be fed from an expected increase in Gazprom exports.
"Establishment of the new transport infrastructure on the shortest route connecting gas fields in the Northern Russia and European markets will promote the improvement of safety and reliability of supplies under new contracts," he said.
Gazprom has said it plans to stop sending gas to the European market through Ukraine after 2019.