(RIA Novosti) - Turkey, Romania and some other countries are showing interest in the project to build a pipeline along the bed of the Black Sea to pump natural gas to Europe, the Gazprom CEO said on Monday.

The 25 billion-euro ($36.5 billion) South Stream project is designed to annually pump 31 billion cubic meters of Central Asian and Russian gas to the Balkans and on to other European countries, bypassing Ukraine, which has frequent disputes with Russia over gas supplies and transits. The pipeline's capacity is expected to be eventually increased to 63 billion cubic meters.

"We see a large interest being displayed by countries that are not yet participating in the project. Yes, indeed, there are a number of countries showing interest in taking part," Alexei Miller said in response to a question on whether Turkey and Romania were interested in the project.

The project currently involves Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Italy and Greece. Bulgaria earlier spoke about the possibility of quitting the project. However, Miller said that he saw no problems with the countries that had already signed agreements on the project's implementation.

South Stream is a rival to the Nabucco pipeline, designed to bring gas from Central Asia and the Caspian to Europe, bypassing Russia. The European Union, wary of its energy dependence on Russia, is backing the project despite the current economic crisis.

Russia has taken active steps to secure rights to Azerbaijani gas in the hope of cutting off potential supplies for Nabucco. Miller said in June after signing a deal for gas from the vast Shah Deniz field that Gazprom had secured a privileged position regarding future purchases from Azerbaijan.


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