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13:54
TIHIPKO PROPOSES UKRAINIAN-RUSSIAN-EU JOINT VENTURE FOR MANAGING GAS TRANSIT SYSTEM

Kyiv, August 6 (Interfax-Ukraine) – Ukrainian banker Serhiy Tihipko, who has announced his intentions to run for president, believes that Turkey can replace Ukraine as a main transit country for shipping Russian gas to Europe.

"The survey work for the construction of the Nord Stream are underway. Turkey has agreed with the European Union about the Nabucco project and today or tomorrow will allow Russians to build the South Stream gas pipeline on the bottom of the Black Sea in its territorial water. So the country's leadership has done its best for it to be better for Europe to get Russian and Caspian gas by bypassing Ukraine," the press service quoted Tihipko as saying on Thursday.

The politician also reminded that Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko's secretariat has expressed support for the Nabucco project.

Tihipko believes that Ukraine should offer Russia, as a gas supplier, and Europe, as a gas consumer, its own plan, which will be more beneficial and attractive.

It is obvious that it is much cheaper to improve the performances and functioning of the existing Ukrainian gas transportation system, then to spend billions on the construction of bypass routes, the banker said.

The key element of the Ukrainian business plan could be the formation of a joint-stock company for managing the country's gas transportation system.

"Let's keep 50%, sell 25% to the Russians and another 25% to the European customers. We'll get an absolutely transparent enterprise and will show that the construction of the Nord Stream and South Stream will cost much more than the investments into supporting Ukraine's gas transportation system," the politician said.

Meanwhile, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan on Thursday signed a protocol on cooperation in the gas sphere under which Ankara gave preliminary consent to build the South Stream gas pipeline and Russia will be allowed to carry out survey work for the pipeline in Turkey's territorial waters.

The South Stream's main goal is to bypass Ukraine, which has been an instable transit country. It will run along the Black Sea shore of Russia to Bulgaria or Romania and then on to southern Italy and Austria. The new gas pipeline system is to have capacity to carry 63 billion cubic meters per year. The cost of the project is estimated at EUR 8.6 billion.

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