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Serbia, Russia initial crucial energy agreement
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Serbia and Russia have successfully concluded talks on a crucial energy agreement and initialed the agreement, a senior Serbian official said on Monday.

Serbian Energy Ministry State Secretary Dusan Mrakic said that an agreement had been reached on the contents of all three documents, including the contents of a contract on the sale of a majority stake in the Serbian state oil company NIS to Russia's state-owned Gazprom.

Mrakic said that the other two documents involve completing the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline through Serbia by the end of 2015 and Russia's help in building an underground gas storage facility in Banatski Dvor in northern Serbia.

According to an intergovernmental energy deal signed in Moscow in January, Gazprom will pay 400 million euros (some 560 million U. S. dollars) for a 51 percent stake in NIS and invest another 500 million euros (some 700 million dollars) by 2012 to modernize its refineries. In return, Serbia will be included in the South Stream gas pipeline, a multi-billion pipeline under the Black Sea to carry Russian natural gas to Western Europe. Russia will also help Serbia in building the Banatski Dvor underground gas storage facility with the capacity of maximum 300 million cubic meters of natural gas.

Mrakic said that the agreement would be signed soon in Moscow and that the signing ceremony would be attended by Presidents Boris Tadic of Serbia and Dmitry Medvedev of Russia.

He said that a single document in the form of a joint statement of the two presidents, incorporating all three documents, would be signed at the ceremony and that the harmonization of the document was underway.

(Xinhua News Agency December 23, 2008)

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