Grayling grabs gas account

Grayling has been selected to handle a six-figure PR and public affairs brief for a planned gas pipeline aimed at breaking Russia's grip on Europe's gas supply.

Construction of the 3,300km Nabucco gas pipeline is expected to start in 2011, with the first gas flowing in 2014. The pipeline will connect the world's richest gas areas - the Caspian region, Middle East and Egypt - to the Turkish and European consumer markets.

The project rivals Russian gas giant Gazprom's South Stream pipeline plan across the Black Sea and into the heart of the European Union, and its planned Nord Stream pipeline from Russia to Germany.

Chris Dobson, Grayling group managing director for CEE, SEE and Eurasia, said the agency expected to be up against Gazprom's campaigns for South Stream and Nord Stream. He said a key topic of discussion would be the 'diversification of energy resources and the reliance of the EU on Russia for gas'. However, Dobson insisted: 'It's not being positioned as replacing the Russia pipeline - it's additional.'

Dobson added that Grayling would be also be communicating that the pipeline will not cause any lasting environmental impact to the local markets, while representing the project in Brussels. The agency won the brief after a six-month, three-way pitch process.

Grayling's activities cover London, Brussels, the transit countries - Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey - and Azerbaijan, which is yet to declare whether it will feed Nabucco.

The agency will be assisting Nabucco in the development phase of the pipeline and will have responsibility for international media relations, public affairs, local press and community relations.

The account will be headed by Dobson and corporate MD Louise Ballard, reporting to Nabucco head of communications and public affairs Christian Dolezal.

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