Greece and Russia will sign a deal to cooperate on building a major gas pipeline, South Stream, when President Vladimir Putin meets Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis this week, a Kremlin source said.
The source said Karamanlis will meet outgoing president Putin and his successor Dmitry Medvedev, who will be sworn in on May 7, when he visits Russia on April 29-30.
Development Minister Christos Folias said earlier this month Greece has agreed to join the Kremlin-backed pipeline project, further boosting energy ties with Russia.
The pipeline, which will be jointly built by Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom and Italy's energy group ENI, will eventually transport 30 billion cubic metres (bcm) of Russian gas a year to Europe.
Greece will become a transit state on the southern leg of the pipeline which will pump gas to Italy.
The project, which aims to link Gazprom's Siberian gas fields with Europe and is seen as a competitor to the EU and U.S.-backed Nabucco pipeline, will cost around 10 billion euros ($15.66 billion)
South Stream will run from Russia via a 900-km underwater pipeline across the Black Sea to Europe. Fellow Balkan nations Serbia and Bulgaria, as well as Hungary, recently joined South Stream.
Washington, fearful of Russia's tightening grip on the European energy market has urged countries, including Greece, to diversify their energy providers.
The Kremlin source also said Putin and Karamanlis will discuss a 950-million euro Russian-Bulgarian-Greek oil pipeline, agreed on last year after 14 years of negotiations.
The construction phase of the 280-km (174 miles) pipeline, bypassing the congested Turkish Straits and pumping oil into the Aegean port of Alexandroupolis from the Bulgarian Black sea port of Burgas, is expected to start soon.
Last Mod: 28 Nisan 2008, 17:20