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Nord Stream partners start talks on GDF invitation

  Nord Stream partners have started talks on inviting the Gaz de France company to join the gas pipeline project, a senior Gazprom official said on Friday.

“On the whole, I think we have moved from verbal interest to the phase of wide-ranging talks with our partners,” said Stanislav Tsygankov, the foreign economic contacts chief at Gazprom.

The 1,220 km pipeline to pump 27.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually is due to go on stream in 2010. It is currently being laid under the Baltic Sea to export Russian natural gas to Germany, Britain, the Netherlands, France and Denmark.

Gazprom earlier said Gaz de France (GDF) was seeking to enter the project as a minority shareholder. Gazprom Spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said the issue should be considered by a Nord Stream shareholder committee.

Gazprom holds a 51% stake in Nord Stream AG, the project operator. Germany’s Wintershall Holding and E.ON Ruhrgas control 20% each, and the remaining 9% belongs to Dutch Gasunie. (