MOSCOW, April 22 (RIA Novosti) – Russian gas giant Gazprom approved Tuesday the purchase from its Berlin-based subsidiary of 50 percent of the shares of South Stream Transport, the gas company said in a statement.

Gazprom Germania will sell 205,990 shares of Dutch-based South Stream Transport to the Russian energy giant, according to the resolution approved by the Gazprom Board of Directors.

South Stream Transport, an international joint venture of Gazprom, Italy’s ENI, France’s EDF and Germany’s Wintershall Holding, is in charge of building the undersea portion of the South Stream gas pipeline.

A contract to build the first of four marine lines for the project was signed with Italian company Saipem last month.

Despite increasing tensions in the region, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said last week the country is continuing work on the pipeline project, including holding consultations with Europe.

South Stream is to cross the Black Sea to ship Russian gas to South and Central Europe. For the onshore sections, Russia has signed intergovernmental agreements with Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Greece, Slovenia and Croatia.

The construction of South Stream began in 2012 near the Russian city of Anapa, with the first gas to pass through the pipeline in the first quarter of 2016, before becoming fully operational in 2018.