( dpa ) - Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is visiting Bulgaria, has pushed through a deal to build a huge pipeline which would deliver Russian gas to Western Europe, local reports said Friday.
The Bulgarian government agreed to take a stake in the South Stream pipeline project in an emergency session on Friday morning.
Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev's cabinet met ahead of Friday's talks with Putin, who arrived on Thursday with a large delegation including his heir-apparent, Deputy Premier Dmitri Medvedev, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The 10-billion-dollar, 900-kilometre pipeline would have an annual capacity to deliver 30 billion cubic metres through its two forks ending in Italy and Austria. The pipeline is to be constructed by ENI of Italy and Russia's giant Gazprom.
Wary of its growing dependance on Russian gas, the European Union - of which Bulgaria became a member a year ago - had supported the rival Nabucco pipeline which would supply it with central Asian gas, bypassing Russia.
Moscow was eager to push the deal through at the same time as signing some other treaties.
The contract due to be signed in Putin's presence on Friday includes the deal to build a pipeline for Russian oil from Burgas on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast to Alexandropoulis in Greece and the construction of a 6-billion-dollar nuclear power plant.
The Belene power plant would be built by Russia's Atomstroyexport. The plan has drawn harsh criticism from the Bulgarian opposition and sparked protests at Putin's visit.