The Turkish Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning has approved the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report for South Stream’s offshore pipeline section.

The pipeline will be built at a distance of more than 110km from the Turkish coast, in water depths of about 2,200m.

The pipeline’s initial string is planned to be laid starting from late 2014, while the first pipelaying vessel will enter the Turkish exclusive economic zone in the first quarter of 2015.

The first offshore pipeline is expected to start operations by the end of 2015.

South Stream is Gazprom‘s global infrastructure project for building a gas pipeline with a capacity of 63 billion cubic metres in the Black Sea to southern and central Europe.

"The first offshore pipeline is expected to start operations by the end of 2015."

The project aims to diversify natural gas export routes and remove transit risks.

The gas pipeline construction is currently underway in Russia, Bulgaria and Serbia.

The offshore section of the pipeline will feature four strings, each more than 930km-long, to be laid under the Black Sea.

South Stream’s offshore section is constructed by South Stream Transport, a joint-project company between Gazprom (50%), Italy-based Eni (20%), German Wintershall (15%) and French EDF (15%).

The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that natural gas demand in the European Union (EU) will increase to between 592 billion cubic metres and 640 billion cubic metres in 2030 from 536 billion cubic metres in 2010.

The pipeline will enhance energy security by further diversifying Russian gas routes to Europe.