Nov 22 (Reuters) - Serbia and Russia start construction of the South Stream pipeline through Serbia on Sunday, a project that will increase the Balkan region's dependence on Russian gas.
A joint venture between Russia's Gazprom and Serbia's state-owned Srbijagas, South Stream branches are also planned for Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo and Macedonia.
Following are details on their gas consumption and supply routes:
Serbia, the largest of the former Yugoslav countries, consumes about 2.5 billion cubic metres of gas annually. Government officials say South Stream would make gas more accessible for industrial consumers. It would also open possibilities to build gas-fired power plants to meet rising demand for electricity as ageing capacities near the end of their life span.
A 1.7 billion euro South Stream link through Serbia will be financed by Serbia's gas utility Srbijagas and Gazprom. The two companies operate a gas storage facility with a capacity of 450 million cubic metres in Serbia, one of the two in the region.
Bosnia consumes 230 million cubic metres of gas a year and its main supply route delivers gas via a single pipeline carrying Russian supplies through Ukraine. South Stream is planned to go through the northern part of the country under Serb administration.
Croatia, the newest European Union member, consumes 3 billion cubic metres a year and meets about 60 to 65 percent of its consumption from local production by oil and gas group INA in which Hungary's Mol Group has close to a 50 percent stake and the government holds nearly a 45 percent stake.
Croatia is considering several projects to diversify its supply sources, including the Ionian-Adriatic Pipeline which would link to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) in Albania, a liquefied natural gas terminal on the northern Adriatic island of Krk and a branch that would connect Croatia's gas pipeline grid to the South Stream project running through Serbia.
Kosovo, which holds the largest reserves of lignite coal in the Balkans, does not have a developed gas network. Its government has pledged to develop gas infrastructure as part of a strategy to switch to cleaner technologies which would be more in line with EU environmental standards. Kosovo signed up to be included in TAP from Albania and a feasibility is being done.
Serbian officials said they have agreed with Gazprom to build a South Stream stretch to Kosovo, but Pristina says there have been no negotiations with the Russian party regarding construction of the pipeline.
Macedonia gets its annual gas supply of 130 million cubic metres from Russia. The government pledged to build a new pipeline which would make gas more accessible to industrial consumers. If that project goes through estimates are that by 2030 the country will use 2.5 billion cubic metres of gas.
Macedonia and Russia in July signed an agreement to cooperate on construction of the Macedonian leg of South Stream. (Reporting by Maja Zuvela in Sarajevo, Igor Ilic in Zagreb, Kole Casule in Skopje, Fatos Bytici in Pristina and Ivana Sekularac in Belgrade,; editing by Michael Kahn and James Jukwey)