VIENNA, April 3 (Reuters) - Gazprom's Western partners for the Nord Stream 2 will decide by the end of 2017 how to get involved in the pipeline project, which the Russian group is now financing on its own, the chief executive of Austrian energy group OMV said.
Last July Uniper, Wintershall, Shell , OMV and Engie withdrew from pledges to provide equity for the 8 billion euro ($8.5 billion) pipeline after Poland's cartel office blocked its clearance.
"We as European partners have to find out how we want to support this project further. We will agree on this as a new basis for the partners this year," Seele told Reuters in an interview on Monday. "I am also getting impatient."
The European Union is divided over the plan. Eastern European and Baltic countries think a new pipeline carrying Russian gas across the Baltic will make the EU a hostage to Moscow, while those in northern Europe -- especially main beneficiary Germany -- see above all the economic benefits.
EU sources said the bloc might try to delay the final construction of Nord Stream 2 as long as possible because there may ultimately be no legal basis to block approval.
Seele declined to go into details of possible alternative financing for the project, but said after the Polish decision he could no longer become a shareholder. "The risk is too high," he said.
"We only build the pipeline capacity, we don't commit in any form to take additional gas volumes as an importer," he said.
The initial plan would have seen Western firms getting 10 percent stakes each while putting in 1.2 billion euros and Gazprom 50 percent of the venture for the 55 billion cubic meter pipeline.
$1 = 0.9384 euros Reporting By Shadia Nasralla and Alexandra Schwarz-Goerlich; Editing by Michael Shields