Sweden to join forces against Nord Stream

The Baltic Times
Staff and Wire Reports, VILNIUS
March 6, 2008

Lithuania and Sweden have agreed to bolster cooperation to protect the Baltic Sea from possible environmental effects of the projected Nord Stream gas pipeline.

The countries” environment ministers, Arturas Paulauskas and Andreas Carlgren, agreed in Brussels on March 3.

Paulauskas, who recently took the position, expressed fears that the planned construction of the pipeline on the sea bottom could move the World War II-era weapons buried in the seabed, thus jeopardizing the maritime ecosystem, a press release from the Environment Ministry said.

Carlgren said that the Swedish government had rejected a study of possible environmental effects of Nord Stream and a service platform due to obvious shortcomings.

He said the study did not indicate key aspects that had to be addressed in the assessment of environmental effects of constructions and did not discuss alternative versions of the pipeline route. The minister noted that Sweden was willing to consider the survey after more details were provided; however, the process may take about 18 months, he said.

Nord Stream is a 1,200-km gas pipeline would be laid through the bottom of the Baltic Sea to connect Vyborg on the Gulf of Finland with the German city Greifswald.

Several Baltic Sea states have expressed apprehensions about the pipeline, particularly in that it could disturb WWII sea mines that, everyone agrees, still exist. The Baltic states would rather see the pipeline go overland, but Germany and Russia claim this would be more costly since it would require an enormous number of land purchases and leases.

Nord Stream also argues that an undersea pipeline is technically advantageous since it can operate without interim compression, whereas an overland pipeline requires compression stations every 100 – 200 kilometers.

Latvian energy authorities have expressed a willingness to back the project since the country could benefit from the 5 billion euro project.

Latvia would like Russia to build a spur from the pipeline to its Incukalns gas reservoir, and even possibly use Nord Stream gas to build a new gas storage facility in Kurzeme.

So far, however, Russia”s Gazprom, which owns 50 percent in the project, has shown no interest.