Construction of Serbia’s section of the South Stream gas pipeline may get underway this year, the head of state-owned gas company Srbijagas has told a conference.

The 400 km stretch of the Gazprom-led pipeline project could also enable Serbia to build between two and four gas fired power plants, which would provide power and steam from the South Stream’s expected completion in 2015.

“I expect that, by the end of the year, since we are about a year ahead of other partners, we’ll be in the position to begin construction of the geostrategic energy project,” said Srbijagas General Director Dusan Bajatovic, according to Bloomberg.

Serbia is seeking to diversify its gas imports, which currently arrive from Hungary through Ukraine, and was the first of the nations involved in the project to complete a feasibility study for its section.

Russia wants to deliver as much as 63 billion cubic metres of gas a year to the European Union under the Black Sea through the South Stream. It will be the second link bypassing Ukraine after the Nord Stream pipeline.

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