Russian gas monopoly Gazprom yesterday signed agreements with several partners, including Greece, to construct the South Stream pipeline, seen as a rival to the EU-led Nabucco project, the company said. Gazprom signed agreements with Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece to create joint ventures to carry out feasibility studies on the building of the South Stream gas pipeline to go through their territories. Gazprom established a 50-50 joint venture with the Greek company Hellenic Gas Transmission System Operator SA (DESFA) and the Bulgarian Energy Holding. Each of these agreements establishes «the principles of cooperation by the parties during the pre-investment stage of the project,» the parties said in a joint statement. Russia signed the deals, including a plan to double South Stream’s capacity, as it bids to outpace the Western-backed Nabucco pipeline to bring gas from Central Asia and the Caspian to Europe and ease the continent’s dependence on Russian gas. «Activities around Nabucco are being initiated by politicians, most often from across the Atlantic, because it is a political, not an economic, project,» Gazprom said in a statement.