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Sweden gives all clear to Baltic Sea gas pipeline

The Local/AFP · 5 Nov 2009, 18:11

Published: 05 Nov 2009 10:32 GMT+01:00
Updated: 05 Nov 2009 18:11 GMT+01:00

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The route for the pipeline will pass through international waters and in a press release on Thursday morning the Swedish government recognises its acceptance of the right of all states to lay pipelines there.

The government has, during the 23 month consultancy process, underlined that the environment of the Baltic Sea is a prioritized area and has demanded that Nord Stream specify any consequences of the project for the sea bed.

"The government has set high demands to ensure that the sensitive environment in the Baltic Sea is not threatened. The company has been required to provide a series of supplementary examinations and has satisfied each stage of the deliberation process," Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren said in the government press release.

The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea has provided the framework for the examination of the merits of the project according to Swedish and international law.

After an exhaustive process of consultation with states bordering the Baltic Sea and within Swedish authorities, the government is satisfied that demands have been met to approve the project.

"We have thus concluded that a yes is the only available decision. The government is satisfied that the planned route is in accordance with Swedish responsibilities to protect and preserve the marine environment," Carlgren said.

Thursday's breakthrough approvals from both Finland and Sweden come as new tensions have been playing out between Moscow and Ukraine, raising fears for a new row between the countries that could jeopardise Russian gas supplies to Europe.

By going under the Baltic Sea, Nord Stream's pipeline could free the European Union of the risks posed by disputes between Moscow and the Ukraine, through which 80 percent of Russian gas currently transits on its way to Europe.

One quarter of all gas consumed in Europe comes from Russia.

Denmark agreed to Nord Stream on October 20, leaving Russia and Germany the only countries that still need to officially approve the project.

"This is an important day for the Nord Stream project," Nord Stream managing director Matthias Warnig said in a statement.

"These two permits are further significant milestones for our project and Europe's security of supply," he added.

Finland, like Sweden, underlined the environmental aspect of its decision and said Nord Stream was required to "take all possible measures to prevent and minimise any damage" to sealife, maritime safety and Finland's border security.

The $7.4 billion Nord Stream project is led by Russian state-run energy giant Gazprom in partnership with Germany's E.On Ruhrgas and BASF-Wintershall.

It will link the Russian city of Vyborg and Greifswald in Germany over a distance of 1,220 kilometres (758 miles), going under the Baltic Sea and passing through Russian, Finnish, Swedish, Danish and German waters.

Sweden's approval resolves what had become a dispute between Stockholm and Moscow two weeks before a EU-Russia summit to be held in Stockholm, as Sweden currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

In June, Russia's ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chijov, asked the Swedish prime minister if Nord Stream was going to be one of his presidency's priorities.

Fredrik Reinfeldt bluntly replied that Sweden "was evaluating the project according to Swedish law."

Story continues below…

"We believe in the rule of law," he said.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday thanked Finland and Sweden for approving the project.

"In the name of the Russian leadership, I want to thank our Swedish colleagues and the Swedish government for this decision," he said.

Nord Stream AG wants to start installing the pipeline, formed of two parallel gas tubes, in 2010. Gas delivery to Europe will start in the autumn of 2011, after the first tube is installed, and the entire project should be completed by 2012.

The pipeline has the capacity to bring 55 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas to Europe per year, which represents 11 percent of expected gas

consumption in Europe for 2011.

The Local/AFP (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:21 November 5, 2009 by Nemesis
It is good news that this project is going ahead.

It was also good that the Swedish government held the project up, so that the majority of concerns regarding the project, could be raised and dealt with.

This a major infrastructure project for Europe and will help in the present situation to create long term jobs.

This project will also help in regards to stabilisation of energy imports to Europe, until the projects that ITER spawns come online, which will free us from the majority of energy imports.
16:19 November 5, 2009 by Grippen
Nemesis - don't you see that the whole point of this project for Russia is to use gas as political leverage to threaten new members of EU, while enjoying cach flow from the Germany?

Those "long term jobs" will actually be taken from Eastern Europe and given for Russian companies maintainind the pipeline.

What about ecological consequences for the Baltic sea, if the pipeline will hit chemical weapon junkyards in the sea?
17:39 November 5, 2009 by Nemesis
@ Grippen,

Actually it means that Russia can no longer use Ukraine as an excuse to cut of gas supplies to Europe.

It does however leave Ukraine at the mercy of the wolf.

Europe needs several pipelines, as pipes need to be shut down occassionally for maintenance, possible severing of a pipe due to terrorism and sometimes political changes in a country which will block a pipe.

Also the more pipes in Europe, the easier it will be to eventually link them all up in the western part of Europe. That means gas will eventually be able to be pumped in at several points from tankers, Norway and any other possible source.

The pipelines through Turkey fall into the same category.

Pipeline maintenance is usually done by high quality engineers. Most of them come from the west.

The last few years, the survey ships have been mapping the Baltic on the route of the pipe, so as to avoid Cehmical weapon dumps, radioactive dumps, shipwrecks and explosive dumps from the end of the war. That mapping process has foudn several uncharted wrecks and dumps. Several suspicious scans are still to be dived for formal identification.

Instead of seeing it as half empty, it can also be half full at the same time.

There is political problems with russia. That I recognise, but also recognise that more pipelines are necessary as Europe integrates its energy supplies more and builds in more redundancy into the supply networks.
17:51 November 5, 2009 by mkvgtired
Nemesis, I am glad you recognize the importance of a pipeline from the south as well. Nabucco has been held up for years, partly because Germany decided to focus on Nord Stream instead. Despite Russia's HUGE (and I cant stress that enough) supply of natural gas, they purchased the rights to much of the gas produced in Azerbaijan (a potential Nabucco supplier). This was due to the fact that Western negotiations stalled on Nabucco. Hopefully these can resume before Russia has a controlling stake in close to all energy being imported to Europe. Russia is an integral part of European energy security, but if anyone thinks they will not manipulate prices once they have a virtual monopoly on distribution, they should have their head examined. Wake up, Nabucco is probably the most important component to EU energy diversification currently on the table. If the EU doesnt want to purchase rights to non-Russian sourced gas, Russia and China have shown they are more than willing to.
22:19 November 5, 2009 by Sarunas
It is a "Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact" of the XXI century for the Eastern Europe and the Baltics. The West could have equally negotiated a much cheaper (and environmentaly safier) land-pipeline through poland and the baltic states. But but in that case Russia would have ceased the possibility to energetically blackmail the "misbehaving" ex-soviet states and their governments... Apparentely the West couldnt care less and did nothing that could upset the "Big bear".

EU solidarity, huh? ...
23:43 November 5, 2009 by FrenchCanadian
Who care about Ukraine?

This is real good news. I much prefer having to deal directly with Russia. Also, this is a sign that the EU has had enough of the USA and its NATO.
06:34 November 6, 2009 by sweco1
This is a bad deal.

Basically a deal with the devil.

Gazprom (Russian J.) will be jerking the price around, they always find a reason to raise the prices.

This is energy dependency not energy independents.

Just look at what they did to DaimlerBenz via Chrysler. This time they are attacking Germany via Russian gas good luck Germany you will need it.
15:23 November 6, 2009 by vladd777
I want to feel comfortable with this deal but my gut feeling won't let me. I see trouble ahead...
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