Voestalpine says Russian gas pipeline talks on track

BRUSSELS Thu May 15, 2014 10:05am EDT

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BRUSSELS May 15 (Reuters) - Austrian steel and technology group Voestalpine said talks with Moscow to supply steel for its planned South Stream Gas pipeline were on track, despite escalating tensions between Russia and the West.

Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula earlier this year marked the biggest East-West crisis since the Cold War and focused politician's minds on reducing the European Union's reliance on Russian gas.

There are concerns in Brussels that the 2,400 kilometer South Stream pipeline, which would reach Bulgaria and other EU members, would further cement Russia's dominant role and regulatory approvals have been put on hold.

However, Voestalpine Chief Executive Wolfgang Eder said the political situation has not affected talks about delivering steel.

"We are delivering for the first line and we will start in summer discussions for a possible share in the second. The timescale hasn't changed," he said on the sidelines of the European Steel Day conference in Brussels.

Western sanctions on Russia have so far refrained from targeting major state enterprises.

But the West has threatened more sanctions that could target key sectors such as energy and banking if Russia escalates the crisis in Ukraine. (Reporting by Maytaal Angel; Editing by Erica Billingham)

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