Gazprom has decided to begin construction of the South Stream natural gas pipeline in December 2012, as opposed to 2013, as previously planned, Chairman of the Board Alexei Miller announced in a meeting held last Friday, a press release informs. “Gazprom has done everything necessary to significantly advance the previously announced start date of South Stream construction. We already have an international legal framework, huge interest of all participants in Europe, the necessary financial resources and the unique experience in implementing large-scale offshore gas transmission projects. The project is needed and awaited, and we are beginning to implement it” – said Alexei Miller. Gazprom will present the updated construction schedule to the board of directors of South Stream Transport AG in February. In late December, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at a meeting with Miller said it was preferable to start construction of the pipeline at the end of 2012, ahead of the previously set target date of 2013.
South Stream will have throughput capacity of as much as 63 billion cubic meters and the pipeline will bypass Ukraine. Towards the implementation of the European dry-land part of the project Russia has signed intergovernmental agreements with Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Greece, Slovenia, Austria, and Croatia.
Miller remains Gazprom’s CEO
In another context, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, denied reports of speculation that Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller will leave his position and may be replaced by the billionaire shareholder and head of Novatek, Leonid Mikhelson. “This doesn’t correspond to reality,” Peskov said by phone for Kyiv Post, when asked about the reports in the Vedomosti and Kommersant newspapers that the speculation of Miller’s departure was driving moves in the state-run company’s stock. Mikhelson said he’d never been offered a job at Gazprom and planned to stay at Novatek.