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Serbia plans $800m Gazprom gas project

Serbia plans $800m Gazprom gas project Published: 28 July 2006

BELGRADE: Serbia will build a 400km cross-country gas pipeline together with Russia's Gazprom, a project worth more than $800 million, the government said yesterday.

The deal between Serbia, its gas monopoly Srbijagas and Russia's Gazprom-Gazexport would make Serbia "one of the key regional participants in gas transport," the government said in a statement after its weekly session. A source in the government said a memorandum of understanding was due to be signed within weeks, after ministers return from their summer holiday.

Sources familiar with the plan said the pipeline in Serbia would ultimately be linked to the Bluestream pipeline - running from Russia to Turkey under Black Sea.

"The Serbian pipeline is to be built south of the Sava and the Danube rivers. Pipes should run from Dimitrovgrad to Nis and on towards Croatia and Bosnia," a source in the government said.

"The pipes will have a capacity of 20 billion cubic metres." Another source familiar with the plan said the deal would help Serbia repay a debt to Kuwait.

"Gazprom has agreed to take over Serbia's $370m debt to Kuwait," the source said. "Serbia would start repaying the debt to Gazprom once the gas starts flowing, getting 25 per cent of transit fees and spending it on debt servicing. That means there will be no threat to the liquidity of the budget," the source added. "But it also sends a signal to the authorities that Gazprom wants control of Srbijagas once it is ripe for sale," he said.

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