Russia will launch the second leg of the Nord Stream pipeline, intended to deliver Russian natural gas to Europe bypassing existing transit countries, in October 2012, Russian gas giant Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said on Thursday.
"We have started pre-commissioning work and ... in October we will start commercial supplies," Miller told president-elect Vladimir Putin at a meeting.
Miller said the launch of the second leg would make Nord Stream a fully automated twin-pipeline gas transport system capable of transporting 55 billion cubic meters of gas annually from Russia to the European Union.
The first leg of the pipeline, which connects Russia and Germany along the Baltic Sea bed and has an annual capacity of 27.5 billion cubic meters of gas, was launched in November 2011.
Share of Russian gas supplies to the European market grew last year to 27 percent from 24 percent. The EU will need 100 billion cubic meters as additional deliveries in next seven or eight years because gas consumption in the region will increase in nearest years, Miller added.
The pipeline’s core shareholders include Gazprom with 51 percent, Germany’s Wintershall Holding and E.ON Ruhrgas (15.5 percent each), France's GDF Suez and the Netherlands' Gasunie (nine percent each).