Gazprom says to press ahead with laying South Stream gas pipeline

LONDON, March 11 Tue Mar 11, 2014 8:21am EDT

LONDON, March 11 (Reuters) - Russia's Gazprom said on Tuesday it would press ahead with laying its massive South Stream natural gas pipeline which aims to pump gas to central and southern Europe later this decade and avoid passing through Ukraine.

"South Stream is confidently moving ahead. Agreements on the laying of the first leg of the pipeline will be signed before the end of March, as well as agreements on the supplies of pipelines for the second leg," Gazprom said in a statement after South Stream's board meeting.

The announcement came a day after the European Commission suspended discussions with Gazprom over important approvals that South Stream still needs to comply with EU legislation, including obtaining exemptions from rules that limit pipeline ownership and require access be provided to other gas firms or utilities.