Nord Stream executives meet with Parts

  • 2007-05-09
  • By TBT staff
TALLINN - Economy Minister Juhan Parts on May 3 met with managers of the Nord Stream gas pipeline project to discuss ramifications of the pipeline construction on Estonian territorial waters.

Parts welcomed the talks on the project, saying that they were long overdue. "I regret that this was just the first meeting on this matter," he said in a statement, adding that the talks reflected a change in attitude on the part of the pipeline developers.
Germany and Russia announced the 4 billion euro natural gas pipeline in 2005. The project was impugned by several EU member states, including Poland, Sweden and the Baltics, who blasted then German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder for not consulting with EU members first.

Parts, who met with Nord Stream managing director Matthias Warnig, once again confirmed the need for consensus on such a massive project affecting several nations. "I cannot imagine how it's possible to make such a project in the 21st century for the satisfaction of Europe's needs if not all EU member states interested in it are involved," he said.
Recently Neel Stroebaek, a Nord Stream manager, said one option was for the pipeline to cross Estonia's exclusive economic zone. She said that the consortium applied to Estonian authorities for permission to measure the depth of the water in its territory.
Other countries that could be affected include Finland, Sweden and Denmark, but Finland has already asked that the pipeline be diverted from Finnish waters out of environmental concerns, Stroebaek said.

Regarding Estonia, she said that the pipeline would affect the Baltic state's economic zone and not its territorial waters.
According to international law, territorial waters stretch 12 nautical miles from land, while "exclusive economic zone" pertains to a nation's rights to exploit marine resources in a 200 nautical mile band off a country's coast.
Stroebaek said measurement of sea depth would take several weeks once the permit was obtained. "In late summer or early autumn we hope we'll be ready to say whether we are going to Estonia or not," she was quoted as saying.
If Nord Stream decides to lay the pipeline in Estonia's exclusive economic zone, it will be required to obtain a permit.
Parts, recently appointed economy minister, said that prior to any decision on pipeline construction under the Baltic Sea all alternative routes should be carefully considered, including land routes.

He also said the environmental impact had to be evaluated, as well as other risks such as overlapping shipping lanes.
Nord Stream executives pledged to consider questions of principle raised by Estonia when planning further activities, the Economy Ministry said in a statement.
Gazprom hopes to complete the first stage of the 1,200 kilometer gas pipeline by July 2010 and to have the entire pipeline operational at its full working capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of gas annually in 2013.
Meanwhile, Estonian media were rife with speculation about Warnig, who according to German media was connected with Stasi, the East German intelligence agency known for its obsession with details and intruding into people's lives.
Warnig is also known for saying in a recent interview, "What's good for Russia is good for Germany."

Several media reports indicated that Warnig was acquainted with Vladimir Putin, who was stationed in East Germany as a KGB officer in the 1980's, though Warnig told the Russian-language Vedomosti newspaper in an interview that he first met Putin in 1991 in St. Petersburg when the latter headed the city's international economic relations committee.
Gazprom owns a 51 percent stake in Nord Stream, while German corporations BASF and E.ON each have a 24.5 percent stake.