Slovenia in, Austria out? South Stream changes ahead

There may be big changes ahead for the $US 16 BLN South Stream gas project. Gazprom officials say it's in talks with Slovenia about possibly joining the South Stream gas pipeline project, connecting Russia and the European Union. And there is speculation

The pipeline will eventually carry Russian gas on the Black Sea bed, through Serbia and Slovenia, and eventually into northern Italy.

The Kommersant newspaper says the negotiations could indicate Gazprom intends to exclude Austria's OMV from the deal. That follows strained relations after the two companies signed a co-operation agreement in January.

The South Stream pipeline, to be jointly built by Gazprom and Italy's ENI, will transport 30 billion cubic metres of gas a year, and is estimated to cost nearly $US 16 BLN.