Nord Stream route altered to calm Finnish environmental concerns

Jun 04, 2009 02:00 AM

The route for the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea may be altered to allay Finnish environmental concerns, the Russian premier said.
Nord Stream would travel along a dual route through the Baltic Sea to Germany. Several of the littoral states have expressed concerns over the environmental impact of pipeline construction, which is complicated by World War II munitions littered across the Baltic Sea floor.

Finnish President Tarja Halonen said her country would support the project if those environmental concerns are eased.
"If it can be built in an ecologically safe way, then we think it's a good solution," she said in April.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin arrived in Finland to meet with Matti Vanhanen, his Finnish counterpart, to discuss a possible solution to environmental issues surrounding Nord Stream.
"Participants in the project are ready to lay any route that will be more acceptable to Finland," Putin said. Vanhanen said his government would complete an environmental impact assessment on the project by the end of the month with the hope of moving forward with construction as early as September.

The regional energy sector faces mounting pressure to diversify. Around 80 % of Russian gas bound for Europe travels through Ukraine. A January gas dispute between Moscow and Kiev left European customers in the cold.
Putin said the European gas market would benefit from all transit options, including Nord Stream.
"The issue is whether our European partners... wish to get our cheap gas or have it condensed through a mediator," he said.

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