* Nord Stream talks seen complete by year end
* Gazprom to retain 51 pct majority stake in pipe
* European gas pricing could harm future demand
(Recasts, adds further comments, details; adds byline)
By Robert Campbell
BUENOS AIRES, Oct 7 France's GDF Suez GSZ.PA
hopes to wrap up talks to join the Nord Stream natural gas
pipeline by the year end and sees no obstacles to completing
the transaction on time, a senior executive said on Wednesday.
GDF would acquire its stake in the pipeline project from
German firms in the venture, allowing Russian gas giant Gazprom
(GAZP.MM) to maintain its 51 percent shareholding, GDF's Vice
Chairman Jean-Francois Cirelli told reporters at the World Gas
"At this time there are no big questions or obstacles to
completing the deal by year end," Cirelli said.
Sources familiar with the discussions told Reuters earlier
this month that GDF was negotiating to take a 9 percent stake
in the pipeline project.
German utility E.ON Ruhrgas (EONGn.DE) is the other main
backer of the pipeline, which connects Russian gas fields with
Western European markets by following a route in the Baltic
Nord Stream will carry 55 million cubic meters of gas
annually to Germany when it begins operations in 2012. The line
has proven controversial as Germany's neighbors have worried it
could give Russia more leverage over energy supplies into
Eastern and Central Europe.
WEAK PRICES A PROBLEM
Cirelli warned that gas producers will have to be more
accommodating with pricing if the present divergence between
oil-linked long-term contract prices and the spot market
"We want cooperation with producer countries because if
they don't want a modification (of pricing policies) ... then
we may be faced with a question of volumes."
European gas sales have been slammed by the global economic
slowdown. E.ON Ruhrgas, one of Europe's leading gas distributor
said it expected sales volumes of the fuel to decline 7 percent
Algerian Oil Minister Chakib Khelil told reporters on
Wednesday the North African nation had sold 10 percent less gas
than in 2008 and had deliberately curtailed liquefied natural
gas production to reduce the amount of gas headed to market.
"(There is) a disconnect between the price of oil and the
price of gas. In our view this disconnect could continue at
least through the end of 2010 and maybe longer," Cirelli said.
Cirelli added that the weak spot gas price was already
depressing investment in new production capacity despite the
long-term need for heavy capital spending over the next decade
to support anticipated growth in global gas demand.
(Reporting by Robert Campbell; Editing by David Gregorio)