UPDATE 2-GDF Suez, Gazprom sign Nord Stream pipeline deal

Mon Mar 1, 2010 4:09pm GMT

Quotes

   

* GDF Suez takes 9 pct stake,gas supply from Baltic pipeline

* Deal to be signed at 1800 GMT with Sarkozy, Medvedev

* Deal to raise GDF Suez gas supplies by 10 pct from 2015

(Recast with statement, more details)

By Muriel Boselli

PARIS, March 1 (Reuters) - France's GDF Suez (GSZ.PA) has signed a deal with Russian gas monopoly Gazprom (GAZP.MM) to take a nine-percent stake in the yet-to-be-build Nord Stream gas pipeline, the companies said in a joint statement on Monday.

An industry source told Reuters on Wednesday that an agreement will be signed in Paris this week during Russian President Dmitry Medveded's three-day state visit to France.

The same source told Reuters that GDF Suez will get 1.5 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas per year from 2015 from the pipeline, as part of the deal.

GDF Suez had been in talks for over a year to join the project built by Gazprom and German utility E.ON (EONGn.DE), which will carry 55 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas annually from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea from 2012.

"GDF Suez will be in the project before construction starts on the pipeline in April," the industrial source told Reuters earlier on Monday, asking not to be named.

The deal will be officially signed at 1800 GMT at the Elysee Palace by GDF Suez Chief Executive Gerard Mestrallet and Gazprom chief Alexei Miller, in the presence of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev.

Medvedev travels to France on Monday and is also set to discuss Iran and the purchase of a helicopter carrier. [ID:nLDE61Q03I]

GDF Suez will buy its nine-percent stake from current shareholders -- 4.5 percent from E.ON and the remaining 4.5 percent stake from Wintershall BASF.DE.

The source said this deal will allow GDF Suez to increase its gas supplies by 10 percent. GDF Suez currently buys between 12-13 bcm annually.

Russia's differences with Ukraine, the main transit route for Russian gas, has led Moscow to propose two pipelines, the Nord Stream and South Stream, running north and south of the European Union bloc, which would bypass transit states entirely.

Russia is also pushing forward with the South Stream project aimed at supplying gas to the south of Europe from the Caspian Sea region and bypassing transit states, such as Ukraine.

French utility EDF (EDF.PA) is in discussions with Gazprom and Italian energy company ENI (ENI.MI) to join South Stream project. [ID:nLDE61D07G]

In January 2009, Russian gas supplies to Europe came to a halt for almost two weeks as Moscow and Kiev rowed over prices and transit terms. Most of Russian gas deliveries to Europe pass through Ukraine.

The Nord Stream approval came as a reprieve for Gazprom, which had to delay the start of its giant Arctic Shtokman gas field - one of the resource bases for the link - by three years to 2016 due to a slump in gas demand. [ID:nLDE6141ZH]

The Nord Stream consortium said on Monday its initial schedule for commissioning the pipeline remained intact despite the Shtokman delay.

For a graphic of Europe imports of Russian gas, click on:

here

For a factbox on Nord Stream, click on [ID:nLDE61B06H]

(Reporting by Muriel Boselli; Editing by Marie Maitre and Amanda Cooper)