News / Europe

Austria Signs Russian Pipeline Deal, Hosts Rare Putin Visit

FILE - Russia's Gazprom logo
FILE - Russia's Gazprom logo
Reuters
Austria gave its final approval to a controversial Russian gas pipeline project on Tuesday, defying EU officials as Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the neutral country that has been a long-standing energy customer for Moscow.
 
The chief executives of Russia's Gazprom and Austria's OMV sealed the deal to build a branch of the South Stream gas pipeline to Austria, a staunch defender of the project in the face of opposition from the European Commission.
 
South Stream, which will cost an estimated $40 billion, is designed to carry Russian gas to the center of Europe, a continent already dependent on Russia for a third of its gas needs, on a route that bypasses current transit country Ukraine.
 
The Commission says South Stream as it stands does not comply with EU competition law because it offers no access to third parties. South Stream also counters the EU's policy of diversifying supply sources to reduce dependence on Russia.
 
But OMV CEO Gerhard Roiss told a news conference after the signing: “Europe needs Russian gas. Europe will need more Russian gas in future because European gas production is falling ... I think the European Union understands this, too.”
 
He said the Austrian part of the pipeline, which is planned to be built in 2016 and deliver its first gas supplies at the start of 2017, would comply fully with European law.
 
Gazprom chief Alexei Miller said he was in weekly if not daily contact with European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger about the project.
 
“We solve problems as they come up, and now the problem of construction of the pipeline is to be solved,” Miller said.
 
The pipeline deal does not address the question of third-party access, which is required by EU law to prevent the owner of an energy source from monopolizing its distribution channels. Roiss said the issue must be negotiated with Brussels.
 
Gazprom and OMV said they would share equally the 200 million euro ($272 million) costs of building the 50-km (31- mile) Austrian stretch of South Stream, which in total will be 2,446 km long.
 
The route travels across Russia, under the Black Sea and then through Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary and Slovenia to Austria. Another branch may be built to Italy.
 
Gazprom's partners for the offshore part of the project are Italy's ENI, Germany's Wintershall Holding  and France's EDF.
 
Divide and rule?
 
The ceremony took place as Putin jetted in to the Austrian capital for a one-day working visit, only his second to an EU country since Russia annexed Crimea in a violent standoff with Ukraine in March.
 
The confrontation showed signs of easing on Tuesday when Putin asked Russia's upper house to revoke the right it had granted him to order a military intervention in Ukraine in defense of Russian-speakers there.
 
Russia-Ukraine disputes have caused supply disruptions for Europe in the past as Russia has turned off gas to Ukraine.
 
Miller said Gazprom could mitigate such outages in the short term by delivering more gas via its Nord Stream pipeline to Germany, and by filling up European gas storage facilities.
 
The project has pitted European industry against politicians in Brussels, and divided South Stream supporters - which stretch from Germany through the heavily Russia-dependent central and southeastern Europe - from other EU member states.
 
The EU has said it has no criticism of Austria's hosting Putin despite frosty ties with Moscow. He visited France for World War Two commemorations this month.
 
But some politicians have warned that Putin may try to exploit divisions between friendly EU states, such as neutral Austria with its traditionally good ties to Moscow, and those like Britain that want to take a harder line.
 
“Obviously ... Putin wants to split the European Union. That's nothing new. That's what the Russians always try to do when they are in a corner,” Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt told Austrian broadcaster ORF on Monday.
 
Austrian President Heinz Fischer, who will meet Putin, has defended the trip as a chance to keep open lines of communication with the Kremlin.

You May Like

New England Bears Brunt of US Blizzard

Boston, surrounding region grapple with as much as 3 feet of snow, coastal flooding; leaders in New York, spared most severe weather, criticized for being overly cautious More

China Lifts Lid on Sale of Fake Goods Online

A recent survey found nearly 60 percent of a random sample of items bought from Taobao were fake More

Upward Aims to Create Old-girls Network in Silicon Valley

Lisa Lambert, an executive with Intel Corp.'s venture-capital unit, responds to the gender-disparity debate by creating a new social organization More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Cayman
June 26, 2014 1:28 AM
Putin wants to split European Union? What are u talking about? Putin is doing what is the best of the interests for his own country and his international partners! Do not be so tiny minded! USA just does not want to accept that Russia could have allies and the countries who wants to see Russia way to much better partner in any question than USA is! And there is no way that natural gas from USA will be cheaper, as they trying to show the world!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid