Alternative route for Russian pipeline ‘should be considered’

Alternative route for Russian pipeline 'should be considered'
Sweden wants alternative routes to be considered for a Baltic Sea pipeline supplying Russian natural gas to western Europe, now planned to run through Swedish waters, Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren said on Wednesday.

The Scandinavian country has already asked the Nord Stream consortium to provide an environmental impact study before it grants a building permit for the Swedish section of the pipeline.

“The information that we have to date indicates that the pipeline is projected to be passing through areas considered environmentally problematic and risky,” Carlgren said during a visit to Oslo, noting there were “mines, chemical waste and chemical weapons” lying on the seabed.

“The information that we’ve received from the company gives the impression that more easterly routes for the pipeline would give a better potential for avoiding the environmental problems,” he said.

“Now the company must account for other possible routes for the pipeline and the environmental problems and risks and explain why the proposed route is the best one,” he said.

Moving the pipeline further east would place it closer to the Baltic states, which are already vehemently opposed to the project because of environmental and security concerns.

Carlgren said he had informed his Nordic and Baltic colleagues of the Swedish position but had not yet received any reactions.

“We are not speaking in favour of one route or the other,” he said, reiterating that the Sweden’s final position would be based on the requested environmental impact study.

The Nord Stream consortium agreed in 2005 to build a 1,200-kilometre undersea pipeline from Vyborg in Russia to Greifswald in Germany, aiming to turn on the taps by 2010 to supply energy-hungry Western Europe.

Nord Stream’s initial plan was to route the pipeline through the waters of Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany.