Nord Stream decision due at end of month

  • 2007-09-07
  • From wire reports
TALLINN 's Estonia will answer a request to conduct surveys of the sea floor by the Nord Stream pipeline consortium by the end of September, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip has confirmed.

"We will use all the four months offered by law to find out about all of Estonia's interests and fears as regards this gas pipeline. You cannot chart everything in a few days. The government will decide at the end of September what the answer will be," Ansip said.

In preparing its response the government will keep in mind the natural resources lying on the sea bed, since the gas pipeline may prevent the extraction of sand and manganese ore from the sea bottom, he said.

The process of drawing up an answer to Nord Stream's request, the Foreign Ministry has asked expert opinions from nearly twenty different institutions, most of which have already submitted their views.

On May 31, Nord Stream, the company that wishes to build a 1,200 kilometer gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, tendered a request to carry out sea bad surveys in the Estonian economic zone after Finnish authorities asked for the original route to be moved further south.

One of the groups of experts consulted is the Estonian Academy of Sciences, whose conclusions have already been made public in the press. The Academy came out against allowing the pipeline to pass through the area under Estonian jurisdiction.

The total capacity of the pipeline would be 55 billion cubic meters a year. Originally the plan was for Nord Stream (in which Russian energy giant Gazprom is majority shareholder) to bypass the Baltic states completely, but now Estonia finds itself a key player with the power to cause a huge headache for Nord Stream if it refuses the survey request, let alone permission to actually construct the pipeline in the Estonian economic zone.