BUCHAREST, Romania, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Russian gas monopoly Gazprom signed a memorandum of intent to study the feasibility of the South Stream project in Romania, the company announced.
Moscow aims to diversify its natural gas transit options through the South Stream pipeline to Europe. Eighty percent of all Russia's for Europe runs through the Ukrainian gas transit system.
Alexei Miller, the chief executive at Gazprom, met with Romanian Prime Minister Emil Boc and Economic Minister Ion Ariton to discuss bilateral energy affairs.
Miller, during his meetings in Bucharest, signed a memorandum of intent to prepare feasibility studies for South Stream in Romania, the Russian energy company said in a statement.
Gazprom and Romanian energy company Transgaz will sign an intergovernmental agreement of cooperation on South Stream in early 2011 "provided the results of these feasibility studies are positive."
Gazprom said Romania is already sending more than 440 billion cubic feet of natural gas to Bulgaria, Macedonia, Turkey and Greece.
South Stream would branch into two pipelines -- one to Greece and the other through the Balkans -- after it passes through the Turkish waters of the Black Sea.
Technical and economic studies for the pipeline are expected by 2011 and first gas is expected through the pipeline by 2015.