Finland reaffirms Nord Stream needs more environmental checks

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Finland’s foreign minister reiterated on Friday his country’s demands for more environmental checks on a gas pipeline being built between Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Finnish counterpart Alexander Stubb discussed in Moscow the implementation of the Nord Stream project as part of bilateral energy cooperation. The environmental safety of the Baltic Sea pipeline, a joint project between Russian energy giant Gazprom and Germany’s E.ON and BASF, was questioned by Sweden and Estonia last fall. Poland has been seeking to promote an alternative to Nord Stream. “We are certainly trying not to politicize the issue because the project meets the two countries’ economic interests,” said Stubb, who took the post three weeks ago. “We appreciate ... that Finland is not politicizing the issue, but is demonstrating a purely pragmatic attitude in terms of environmental safety,” Lavrov said.

Sweden demanded last November that the Nord Stream route be deviated to reduce environmental risks to the country. In September 2007, Estonia turned down the project operator’s request to allow research on the Baltic seabed in Estonian commercial waters. The ambitious pipeline project has an estimated cost of around $12 billion and is scheduled to be completed in 2012. The first of two parallel pipelines, approximately 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) long, each with a transport capacity of some 27.5 billion cubic meter (bcm) per annum, is to become operational in 2010. In the second phase, capacity should double to about 55 bcm a year.

The project has been heralded as an important contribution to the long-term security of gas supplies and a test of energy partnerships between the European Union and Russia. Russian energy giant Gazprom owns a 51% stake in Nord Stream AG, with Germany’s BASF and E.ON. holding 24.5% stakes, respectively. (Ria Novosti)

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