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Gazprom, OMV Austria Sign South Stream Construction Deal

OMV CEO Gerhard Roiss (left) and Gazprom CEO Aleksei Miller sign the final deal to build a branch of the South Stream gas pipeline ending in Austria, in Vienna on June 24.

Austria’s OMV energy company and Russia’s Gazprom have signed a contract to build the Austrian section of a proposed pipeline meant to supply Europe with natural gas, bypassing Ukraine.

The June 24 signing came ahead of talks in Vienna between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Austrian President Heinz Fischer about the South Stream pipeline and Ukraine’s crisis.

The European Commission has called on all European Union states to resist Kremlin pressure over the project, saying the contracts Gazprom has signed breach the bloc's competition rules.

OMV argues that the project will bolster the security of Europe's energy supplies.

The South Stream pipeline is meant to cross the Black Sea, Serbia, and Hungary -- but Bulgaria has suspended work on its section.

On June 24, Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak said talks were under way to resolve problems with constructing the Bulgarian section.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, Interfax, ITAR-TASS, and the Austria Press Agency