Russian gas company Gazprom has formally agreed to build a costly pipeline that would deliver Russian gas to large parts of Europe.
The South Stream pipeline - funded by Gazprom, Italy's Eni, France's EdF and Germany's Wintershall - is due to start operating in 2015, bringing up to 63 billion cubic meters of gas annually to the Balkans, Austria and Italy.
The Moscow-based company said Thursday that it signed the final investment agreement with its European partners, confirming next month as the starting date for construction. The financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.
The pipeline would go from Russia under the Black Sea to reach Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria and Italy in one leg, and Croatia and Greece in a second.[AP]