Serbia Amends Rules to Speed Up South Stream Pipeline

Serbia adopted a law allowing the venture of state-owned Srbijagas JP and Russia’s OAO Gazprom to quickly gain control of land needed to build its section of the South Stream natural gas pipeline.

Lawmakers passed the bill today allowing South Stream Serbia DOO to take over some 10,000 lots across Serbia, without having to haggle with owners over compensation. Any plot of land along the 470-kilometer (290-mile) route may become eminent domain in 30 days upon the company’s request, and the value will be based on tax authority’s assessments, according to the law.

South Stream is “the first and unique project of this kind and size” in Serbia and rules had to change to meet deadlines agreed with the Russian partner, according to the text. The 1.7 billion-euro ($2.3 billion) Serb section should open in 2015.

The pipe will diversify Serbia’s gas imports that now come only from Hungary via Ukraine, and may bring some 200 million euros a year in transit fees, Srbijagas’ chief Dusan Bajatovic said on Oct. 29. The stretch, with 40 billion cubic meters of annual capacity, will have offshoots to Croatia, Bosnia and Macedonia.

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