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Saipem reaches 2-bn-euro deal with Russia's Gazprom

Business pact comes amid talk of sanctions against Moscow

14 March, 14:56
Saipem reaches 2-bn-euro deal with Russia's Gazprom (ANSA) - Moscow, March 14 - Italy's Saipem, Europe's largest oil-service provider and an Eni subsidiary, has reached a two-billion-euro contract with Russia's Gazprom to extend the South Stream gas pipeline under the Black Sea to southern Europe, the companies said Friday.

This comes amid rising tensions between Europe and Russia over the crisis in Ukraine.

Russian officials are reportedly bracing for sanctions that could be implemented by the United States and Europe over its activity in Ukraine.

Because Russia is the world's biggest energy exporter, supplying 30% of Europe's natural gas last year, State-run Gazprom could be a target of sanctions.

European Union foreign ministers are scheduled to meet on Monday, one day after the Ukraine region of Crimea votes in a referendum about joining Russia.

Bloomberg news reported that ministers will consider asset freezes and travel bans on Russian political and business leaders considered to be responsible for Crimea's move to separate from Ukraine.

South Stream is an infrastructure project of Gazprom, designed to begin carrying natural gas to by 2015 and reaching full capacity in 2018.

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