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BALTIC SEA

Nord Stream plans new gas pipelines

Gas pipeline firm Nord Stream will hold an information meeting on the Baltic island of Gotland on Monday to introduce a proposal to extend its controversial gas pipeline project.

Nord Stream plans new gas pipelines

Russian company OAO Gazprom is the majority shareholder in Nord Stream, an international consortium formed in 2005 to plan and construct a 1,224-kilometre natural gas pipeline along the Baltic Sea floor.

Now, Nord Stream wants to expand the project by adding one or two more pipelines.

The gas pipelines currently under construction will deliver natural gas from Russia to Germany via Sweden. The proposed extension would run from Russia to Germany, passing Finland, Sweden and Denmark.

Monday’s meeting in Visby, Gotland will be open to the public and is part of a decision-making process where stakeholders have the opportunity to voice opinions. It is a requirement for being allowed to submit a construction application.

“We hope to begin putting the pipes down in 2016,” said Nord Stream spokesman Lars O Grönstedt.

The Nord Stream project met with fierce protests when it was launched. According to US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks in 2011, Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president at the time of the project launch, and other power brokers in Russia had no intention of listening to criticisms or protests.

In a report from the US embassy in Moscow, the EU coordinator with Russia’s foreign ministry, Dmitri Polyanski, said back in 2007 that the pipeline would be built regardless of noisy protests from Poland, Estonia and Sweden.

“It can’t be stopped. Not even by a big EU country like Poland,” he said.

Sweden approved the Nord Stream project in November 2009. It was projected to supply 25 million European households with natural gas from Russia.

The most vociferous protests had to do with the project’s potential environmental impact on sensitive marine environments along the Baltic Sea floor.

TT/The Local/nr

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RUSSIA

Germany set to finish controversial Russian pipeline despite US protest

Work looks set to resume on the controversial NordStream 2 pipeline that will bring Russian gas to Germany despite a fresh protest from the United States on Saturday.

Germany set to finish controversial Russian pipeline despite US protest
Unused pipeline at Mukran Port in north Germany. Photo: AFP

German shipping authorities have issued an advisory for the Baltic Sea area where the final few kilometres of the pipeline are set to be laid, warning vessels to avoid the zone from December 5-31.

Ship-tracking website Marinetraffic.com also shows Russian pipe-laying ships Fortuna and Akademik Cherskiy moving towards the area.

These indications coincided with a statement from the acting US ambassador to Germany calling on Berlin and the EU to halt construction of the 1,200-kilometre (750-mile) pipeline, which is also opposed by many eastern European states.

“Now is the time for Germany and the EU to impose a moratorium on the construction of the pipeline,” acting ambassador Robin Quinville told business daily Handelsblatt.

This would send a signal to Russia that Europe was not willing to accept “its ongoing malicious behaviour”, the diplomat said.

“The pipeline is not only an economic project, but also a political tool that the Kremlin is using to bypass Ukraine and divide Europe.”

Many critics

Nord Stream 2 is a 10-billion-euro ($11-billion) pipeline that will run beneath the Baltic Sea and is set to double Russian natural-gas shipments to Germany, Europe's largest economy.

It has long been in the crosshairs of the United States, particularly by the Trump administration which has openly criticised European countries for their reliance on energy from Russia.

Work has been suspended for nearly a year because of US sanctions signed off by Trump in late 2019 that threaten asset freezes and visa restrictions for companies involved in the construction work.

As well as Russian giant Gazprom, which has a majority stake, the international consortium involved in the project includes European players such as Germany's Wintershall and Uniper groups, the Dutch-British giant Shell, France's Engie and Austria's OMV.

Trump has said Germany is “a captive to Russia” because of its energy policy.

Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic states are also fiercely opposed to the pipeline, fearing it will increase Europe's reliance on Russian energy supplies, which Moscow could then use to exert political pressure.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has face criticism in Germany for backing the project and there was speculation that she might withdraw support following the poisoning of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny earlier this year.

Navalny was treated in a Berlin hospital and German authorities concluded that he had been poisoned with a rare Novichok nerve agent developed by Russian authorities, plunging relations with the Kremlin to a new low.

In September when asked if the poisoning could affect Nordstream 2, Merkel's spokesman replied: “The chancellor believes it would be wrong to rule anything out from the start.”

A Nordtream 1 pipeline, which runs along a similar route to Nordstream 2, was inaugurated in 2011.

SEE ALSO: Denmark hails new German doubts on Russian gas pipeline

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