A blow to the Nabucco pipeline as the Iraqi government has rejected the $8 billion plan to export gas from Kurdistan. ‘I consider South Stream to have every chance of being realized earlier than Nabucco’, says Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko. Shmatko has reiterated that Russia will not sign the Brussels agreement met by the EU and Ukraine. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko is reportedly sure that the agreements made between Russian and Ukraine in January will be revised, as Ukraine will be unable to fulfill its obligations. Gazprom is planning to establish a bank in Serbia to finance the Serbian part of the South Stream pipeline. China has begun work on a crude oil pipeline to Russia, which is expected to be in operation by the end of 2010. Energy will be on the agenda for Prime Minister Putin’s meeting with Norwegian counterpart Jens Stoltenberg, as the two will discuss an oil-rich contested territory in the Barents Sea. The Times reports that at the behest of the Russian government Gazprom has cut its dividend as gas prices decline and domestic spending takes precedence.