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By Olja Stanic
BANJA LUKA, Bosnia, March 5 The Bosnian Serb
Republic will join the South Stream gas pipeline project, which
will bring Russian gas to Europe, its prime minister said on
The Serb Republic plans to build a 480 km pipeline in
northern Bosnia with capacity of up to 1.5 billion cubic metres
and link it to the South Stream pipeline.
"I may surely say now that we will become part of the global
South Stream project," Milorad Dodik told reporters after a
three-day visit to Russia, where he met officials of its
pipeline gas export monopoly Gazprom (GAZP.MM).
"Gazprom has demanded that we produce a feasibility study
for the project in a few weeks or months and agree it with other
countries in the region."
The Bosnian pipeline is planned to go along the Sava River
to Banja Luka to link the Serb Republic with a section of the
South Stream pipeline in neighbouring Serbia.
The 1992-95 war left Bosnia divided in two -- the Serb
Republic and the Muslim-Croat federation, linked by a weak
Dodik said his republic was willing to build a pipeline arm
to the Muslim-Croat federation, as well as to connect to
Croatia's gas network.
Gazprom and the Italian energy group ENI (ENI.MI) are key
partners in the project to build the pipline under the Black Sea
to supply gas to southern Europe.
The project is seen as strategically important by European
countries keen to safeguard their supplies of Russian gas by
using pipelines that bypass former Soviet satellite states,
notably Ukraine, which have had troubled relations with Moscow.
A pricing row between Moscow and Kiev last year disrupted
gas supplies to a number of European countries, including Bosnia
which has no gas reserves and uses around 350 million cubic
metres of gas a year imported from Russia via Ukraine, Hungary
The South Stream pipeline faces competition from the
EU-backed Nabucco project, which aims to transport up to 31
billion cubic metres of gas a year from the Caspian region to
Western Europe, skirting Russia.
Russia has already signed a deal on the South Stream
pipeline pipline with six countries -- Bulgaria, Hungary,
Greece, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia.
(Writing by Maja Zuvela, Editing by Michael Kahn and Anthony