September 30, 2009 / 5:58 AM / 9 years ago

EDF in talks on stake in South Stream pipeline

PARIS, Sept 30 (Reuters) - French power group EDF (EDF.PA) said on Wednesday it was in talks about acquiring a minority stake in Russian Gazprom’s (GAZP.MM) South Stream gas pipeline project.

The pipeline is designed to bring Russian gas across the Black sea to Europe without passing through Ukraine.

“EDF has started talks with Gazprom over a minority stake (in the project),” a spokeswoman said. She did not elaborate.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that EDF would take a 10 percent stake in South Stream by the end of November.

Gazprom and Italian oil and gas group ENI (ENI.MI) each have 50 percent in the South Stream consortium, the paper said, citing a person familiar with the matter. When EDF takes a 10 percent stake, the other two will have 45 percent each, it said.

Earlier this month, outgoing EDF CEO Pierre Gadonneix said EDF was in talks to join the consortium but did not expect to reach an agreement soon.

Russia, which supplies a quarter of Europe’s natural gas, wants to build gas supply routes quickly to bypass Ukraine and other ex-Soviet states after disputes over transit payments in recent years disrupted flows.

South Stream is seen as the main competitor to the EU- and U.S.-backed Nabucco pipeline which aims to reduce Europe’s energy dependence on Russia by securing gas from the Caspian region. (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Dan Lalor)

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