Russian President Vladimir Putin was on hand to mark the start of construction of the South Stream gas pipeline, linking Russia with Europe.
Gazprom, the state-run gas monopoly which launches the project, will lay pipes under the Black Sea and via the Balkans. Bulgaria will act as a hub to access southern Europe, neatly avoiding problematic transit countries.
Vladimir Putin spoke about the project:
“We are now about to finalise a huge infrastructure project. In parallel with Nord Stream through the Baltic Sea, South Stream, using the same system, will guarantee a sure way of delivering Russian gas to our key consumers in Europe.”
Disagreements on gas pricing with the Ukraine and Belarus has sometimes led to gas being cut off to certain regions in Europe.
Now, the hope is that southern Europe will have access to more dependable gas supplies in the future.