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Iran-Europe gas pipeline to bypass Russia

MOSCOW, July 26 (RIA Novosti) – The state-held Ukrainian company Naftogaz Ukrainy has announced its intention to participate in the construction of a transit gas pipeline from Iran to Western Europe, probably bypassing Russia, the daily newspaper Kommersant reported.

Alexei Ivchenko, board chairman of Naftogaz, offered Hadi Nejad-Hosseinian, deputy oil minister of Iran, two possible routes for the pipeline: Iran-Armenia-Georgia-Russia-Ukraine-Europe and Iran-Armenia-Georgia-Black Sea-Ukraine-Europe.

The Ukrainian Fuel and Energy Ministry and the Iranian Oil Ministry signed a memorandum of understanding in Tehran Sunday, providing for the holding of a five-state meeting by late September within preparations for the implementation of one of the above two routes, creating expert groups and determining the powers of the companies that would participate in the project.

A week ago, Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko said the project was crucial “for the country [Ukraine] and should be implemented in the near future. Only in this way will we get truly diversified energy deliveries.”

Gazprom said Monday that it had not received any proposals from Ukraine regarding participation in the choice of the pipelines. Without Gazprom’s agreement, none of these routes can be used since the first goes through Russia and the second runs across the Black Sea bed and the construction of a new gas pipeline crossing the Russian Blue Stream would be impossible without Russia’s consent.

Sergei Titenko, Ukrainian deputy fuel and energy minister, made an unexpected statement Monday that the pipeline would be built according to the Iran-Armenia-Georgia-Ukraine-Europe route, with 550km of the pipe laid on the seabed from the Georgian port of Supsa to the Crimea, Ukraine. The ministry assesses the project at $5 billion.

Moscow is convinced that Kiev is not only trying to find alternative sources of gas, but is also putting tactical pressure on Gazprom.

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