Silvio Berlusconi and Vladimir Putin, meeting in St Petersburg, have given new impetus to the race to supply gas to Europe. The Italian prime minister is joining his Russian counterpart in pushing the South Stream project over another pipeline backed by the EU.
The announcement followed discussions by video phone with Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. South Stream, said Putin, had to be constructed quicker than North Stream, a third pipeline that will run under the Baltic Sea and then pass through Scandinavia. The Russian premier said it was possible because the three countries already had experience working together on another building project on Turkish soil, the Blue Stream construction. South Stream is a joint project involving Russia’s Gazprom and Italy’s ENI. After running under the Black Sea, two possible routes are being studied to supply gas to western Europe. The agreement was sealed back in August during a one-day visit by Vladimir Putin to Ankara. The Turkish prime minister said he saw South Stream as a parallel rather than a rival project to the EU-backed Nabucco pipeline – as both would be needed in the future.