According to reports from the Middle East, Israel has agreed to diversify its source of gas by agreeing an import deal with Russian giant Gazprom.

Interim Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert met on March 19 with Alexei Miller, Gazprom’s chief executive, to discuss the idea of a new import route from Russia.

Mr Olmert suggested that a firm agreement was likely to be concluded in ‘about a year’, enabling construction of the new pipeline, a likely extension of the existing Blue Stream pipeline through Turkey.

We have an agreement in principle and we have to do all that is necessary to implement this and I think in a year’s time we can sign an agreement with [Vladimir] Putin on delivery of Russian gas and we can build a pipeline, Mr Olmert was quoting as saying by Reuters.

Elsewhere, Gazprom has also been strongly linked in the media with an expansion into the Belgian market as the country looks to maintain competition among gas players in the face of the putative merger between Suez and Gaz de France.

According to the Associated Press, Gazprom is attracted by the possibility of access to the export terminal at Zeebrugge that could give it wider access to other European markets.