VIENNA, June 24 Russia's Gazprom finalised a deal on Tuesday to build a branch of its controversial South Stream gas pipeline to Austria, in the face of EU opposition to the project.
The signing of the agreement by the chief executives of Gazprom and Austrian oil and gas group OMV took place in Vienna as Russian President Vladimir Putin flew in to the Austrian capital for a one-day working visit.
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.
"This investment decision is an investment into the security of the gas supply for Europe," OMV CEO Gerhard Roiss told a news conference after the signing. (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Noah Barkin)