MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Kremlin said on Monday that Turkey had given Russia the go ahead to begin work in Turkish waters on the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline to Europe.
Russia, which supplies more than a quarter of the European Union’s gas, is in a race to build South Stream under the Black Sea ahead of the EU-supported Nabucco pipeline which is meant to reduce reliance on Russia by securing gas from the Caspian.
The Kremlin said in a statement that Turkish President Abdullah Gul had telephoned his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, to tell him of the decision to allow the work in the Turkish sector of the Black Sea.
“The Turkish president said that the Turkish government had taken all the necessary decisions to give permission for geological and explorative work in Turkey’s economic zone of the Black Sea for the South Sea gas pipeline,” the Kremlin said.
Russian state-controlled gas giant Gazprom, the world’s largest natural gas company, says the South Stream project should be completed by 2015.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in August won Turkish permission to cross its waters to Europe.