– Austria signs Russian pipeline deal, hosts rare Putin visit (Reuters, June 24, 2014):
VIENNA, June 24 (Reuters) – Austria gave its final approval to a controversial Russian gas pipeline project on Tuesday, defying EU officials and welcoming Russian President Vladimir Putin to the neutral country that has been a long-standing energy customer for Moscow.
The chief executives of Russia’s Gazprom and Austria’s OMV sealed the deal to build a branch of the South Stream gas pipeline to Austria, a staunch defender of the project in the face of opposition from the European Commission.
South Stream, which will cost an estimated $40 billion, is designed to carry Russian gas to the centre of Europe, a continent already dependent on Russia for a third of its gas needs, on a route that bypasses current transit country Ukraine.
The Commission says South Stream as it stands does not comply with EU competition law because it offers no access to third parties. South Stream also counters the EU’s policy of diversifying supply sources to reduce dependence on Russia.
But OMV CEO Gerhard Roiss told a news conference after the signing: “Europe needs Russian gas. Europe will need more Russian gas in future because European gas production is falling … I think the European Union understands this, too.”