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Poland bent North the gas pipeline of Russia

Swiss Nord Stream AG that is the project operator for North European Gas Pipeline has announced the political adjustments in its route. Nord Stream owner – Gazprom – decided to lead the gas pipeline out of the challenged territorial water of Poland and Denmark in the south of the Island of Bornholm and lay it to the north of the island, in Sweden’s economic area.

As of today, the first official concession to the EU will cost Gazprom another 8 kilometers of the pipe. Days earlier, Nord Stream was forced to make the project much more complicated by abandoning construction of a gas-compressor station in the North Sea. In Sweden, they feared the station would emerge as a secret base of the FSB.

Nord Stream AG officially announced changes in the pipeline route in the area of Denmark’s Bornholm Island Tuesday, August 21, 2007. “A new route will run to the north instead of to the south of the island, as it was planned earlier, and it will be longer by eight kilometers,” Nord Stream announced. Sources with the company said the pipeline will be laid in the territorial water of Sweden, as this route runs farther from the drowned bombs and rockets of the WW2, and because this state has a few off-shore gas pipelines of its own. To be more precise, Nord Stream will run 29 kilometers to the south of Sweden’s coast, in 10 kilometers from its sea boarder, via the economic area.

Nord Stream is a gas pipeline that will connect Russia with the EU via the Baltic Sea. According to Global Insight, the EU demand for gas imports will surge from 336 billion cu meters in 2005 to 536 billion cu meters in 2015. By linking together the world biggest gas fields of Russia and gas pipelines of Europe, Nord Stream is widely expected to meet 25% of the EU requirements in additional gas imports. The changes in the gas pipeline’s route could be first of all blamed on political row of Russia and Poland. As soon as Gazprom announced that Nord Stream would run to the south of Bornholm, Poland immediately stepped in to oppose that direction.

What’s more, the legal dispute of Poland and Denmark about sea borders that started far back in early 1970s has gained momentum again. So, Nord Stream holders reasoned in April 2007 it would be better to pull the pipeline out of the challenged area. Reaching an agreement with Sweden proved a real challenge as well. Nature defenders and policymakers of this state lashed out at the project, speculating that the Kremlin would use the platform in the North Sea as the FSB base to keep watch over Sweden.

The Kremlin had to yield in the end, and Gazprom dropped the idea of having an off-shore platform with the gas-compressor station in the territorial water of EU. As a result, the analysts say, Nord Stream AG will have to come up with engineering solutions of no precedent. The usual practice is that a gas-compressor station ensures operation of a land gas pipeline of 100 kilometers to 120 kilometers. For Nord Stream, however, it will have to cater for 1,200 kilometers off-shore.

Of interest is that Gazprom and Sweden agreed off-the-record. At least neither Gazprom, nor Nord Stream AG and RF Foreign Ministry have ever officially spoken of respective negotiations. (kommersant.com)