Jan 29, 2013 Gazprom said it will invest $16.9 billion expanding its pipelines to take gas to southeastern Europe via the South Stream link, piling further costs onto a project aimed at bypassing traditional transit countries Ukraine and Belarus. The investment in Russia’s domestic pipeline network, revealed in a document posted on Gazprom’s website, will bring the total cost of the project aimed at shipping 63 Bcm of gas under the Black Sea by 2018 to $3 8.4 billion. The offshore and European onshore sections of the pipeline are forecast to cost $21 5 billion. Russia says South Stream is needed in order to diversify supply routes to the European Union after disputes with Ukraine led to cutoffs in 2006 and 2009 . Russian gas covers around a quarter of Europe’s needs. Gazprom and its South Stream partners EDF, BASF unit Wintershall and ENI launched construction of the offshore section of the pipeline in December.