Commissioner assures ecology will come first for controversial gas pipeline

  • 2005-12-06
  • By The Baltic Times
RIGA 's European Union Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs met with the chief of Russia's Gazprom and Germany's E.ON Ruhrgas AG and Wintershall to hear their assurances that all the necessary ecological studies and precautions would be carried out before the companies begin building a gas pipeline beneath the Baltic Sea.

"I have met with representatives of Russia's Gazprom and the German Ruhrgaz and BASF. They underlined that the construction work should not begin before solution of ecological problems," Piebalgs said in Warsaw on Tuesday.

Representatives of the consortium visited the European Commission last week to inform of their plans to build the $5 billion pipeline, which has caused tremendous indignation in Poland and the Baltic states.

Many experts claim the project, which was agreed upon by German and Russian leaders in September, could cause serious ecological damage if during construction builders "stumble on" chemical weapons that have been lying on the Baltic seabed since World War II.

The consortium explained to Piebalgs, who is Latvian, that the Baltic Sea route was chosen for economic reasons and not political ones, as Baltic leaders claim.

Balts and Poles fear the pipeline, which they say is economically not viable, will undermine their energy security.

Russian wants a direct link to Germany, its largest consumer, since its traditional routes through Belarus and Ukraine have been troublesome due to theft and payment arrears.

The European Commission has no authority to influence the location of the future gas pipeline.

German and Russian have suggested that branches could be build to the pipeline that would hook up the Baltics.