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Bosnian Serb Republic Joins South Stream

Gazprom, whose Moscow headquarters are pictured here, has asked Bosnia for a study on a South Stream link. Alexander Zemlianichenko JR.

BANJA LUKA, Bosnia — The Bosnian Serb Republic will join the South Stream gas pipeline project, which will bring Russian gas to Europe, its prime minister said Friday.

The Serb Republic plans to build a 480-kilometer pipeline in northern Bosnia with capacity of up to 1.5 billion cubic meters and link it to the South Stream pipeline.

"I may surely say now that we will become part of the global South Stream project," Prime Minister Milorad Dodik told reporters after a three-day visit to Russia, where he met Gazprom officials.

"Gazprom has demanded that we produce a feasibility study for the project in a few weeks or months and agree it with other countries in the region."

The Bosnian pipeline is planned to go along the Sava River to Banja Luka to link the Serb Republic with a section of the South Stream pipeline in neighboring Serbia.

The 1992-95 war left Bosnia divided in two — the Serb Republic and the Muslim-Croat Federation, linked by a weak central government.

Dodik said his republic was willing to build a pipeline arm to the federation and connect to Croatia's gas network.

But Almir Becarevic, general manager of the Muslim-Croat Federation's gas distributor BH-Gas, said the project was politically motivated and would not be profitable as there were no major gas consumers along the planned route.

"We do not agree that gas supplies to the federation should come solely from Serbia and will try to provide alternative supply routes," he said, adding that BH-Gas was mulling a 250-kilometer pipeline network linked with Croatia.

A feasibility study for the project had been evaluated as the most profitable by European institutions and a major part of the funding had been agreed upon with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Becarevic said. He said the project was still pending because of Bosnian Serb opposition.

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