Plans to build the South Stream natural gas pipeline project moved forward yesterday with the signing of a deal in Moscow for the Greek leg of the energy project. Russian gas giant Gazprom and Greece’s grid operator DESFA signed a deal to build the Greek section of the Russian-led gas pipeline, the companies said in a joint statement. Under the deal, the two firms formed an equally owned joint venture that will be in charge of ‘designing, financing, constructing and maintaining the gas pipeline in Greece,’ the companies said. Developed by Gazprom with Italy’s Eni, the South Stream pipeline project is seen as crucial to Russia’s efforts to retain its domination of gas supplies to the European continent. Greece joined the South Stream project in 2008. South Stream is a rival to the European Union-backed Nabucco pipeline, which is aimed at reducing the member countries’ dependence on Russian supplies.