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Nordstream gas line should not be private - Finland

Finland’s Foreign Minister said on Wednesday it is not a good idea that the major gas pipeline project between Russia and Germany is built by a private consortium.

The Nord Stream consortium, majority-owned by Russia’s Gazprom with Germany’s BASF, E.ON and Dutch Gasunie as shareholders, plans a 1,200 kilometer subsea pipeline in the Baltic Sea, linking the two countries. “There is a private firm making the preparations concerning the pipeline. Finland wants to say it doesn’t mix well, it is not a good idea,” Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva told an investment seminar. He repeated Finland has environmental concerns regarding the pipeline but that the Nordic country did not see a security policy threat in the project, as suggested by some countries opposing it.

Poland, along with the Baltic Countries and Sweden have along with Finland raised ecological and other concerns about the pipeline. Warsaw fears Nord Stream bypassing its territory would enable Russia to cut off crucial gas supplies to Poland, while continuing to deliver to Western Europe. Finland’s Kanerva said he saw Germany’s involvement as a balancing factor in the project, although he sympathized with the Baltic nations in considering the gas pipe a security threat. “We are all very small countries ... But when there is Germany, a big player, linked with this, I think it is more in balance. It helps all of us,” Kanerva said. Nord Stream plans to start shipments along the pipe in 2011. Gazprom said last month the route would cost up to €8 billion ($12 billion), substantially higher than initially thought, due to higher global steel and services prices. (Reuters)