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Monday, June 22, 2009

Nord Stream upbeat despite latest hiccup

06-19-2009 - Upstream OnLine - The Russia-led Nord Stream gas pipeline group said today it was upbeat about getting permits from all Baltic Sea countries, despite identifying about 50 World War II munitions dumps along the link's subsea route. "About 50 munitions (sites) in total have been identified on the route and will be handled safely in line with the existing practice...," Nord Stream spokeswoman Irina Vasilyeva told Reuters. The Nord Stream consortium aims to have the twin pipeline up and running in 2011, bringing 55 billion cubic metres of Russian gas to Germany and further to other EU countries each year across the Baltic seabed. But the timetable came under threat after several Baltic countries expressed concerns that the pipeline could damage the environment, especially as it would pass close to dumped World War II munitions. Permits to build and operate the pipeline are needed from Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany. Russia's Natural Resources Ministry said yesterday that Sweden and Denmark had asked to receive further documents covering the project's ecological impact. Vasilyeva said the request was a step forward rather than a step back for the project as it was taking talks on a number of outstanding unresolved issues to a national level after three months of successful multi-national consultations, which de facto cleared the project. "This step has concluded the public participation phase of the Nord Stream project," she said adding the group hopes to solve outstanding issues over the summer and start construction of the 1220 kilometre pipeline as planned in early 2010. The Nord Stream project involves Russian gas export giant Gazprom, Germany's E.ON and Dutch player Gasunie. Many European politicians want reduced dependency on Russian gas, which already supplies about one quarter of Europe's gas demand. Gazprom argues that new pipelines will lessen the continent's dependence on transit states and thus boost energy security.

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