RIGA - The undersea Russian-German gas pipeline project Nord Stream is moving its way closer to reality as significant progress has been made over the past several months, with construction of the pipeline due to start early next year if the five national permits required will be granted, as expected, by the end of this year, reports news agency LETA.
European Union Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs and the pipeline project's managing director Matthias Warnig are on board again proclaiming the importance of the project to EU energy security.
Warnig welcomed the recent signing of an international agreement that should pave the way for the Nabucco pipeline, providing an additional route to carry gas to Europe. Nord Stream and the European Commission agree that Europe needs new energy supply routes, particularly for natural gas. "These projects have the full support of the European Commission," said Piebalgs.
A Nord Stream press release announced that on July 2, the pipeline project received the Uusimaa Environment Center's statement regarding the Baltic Sea gas pipeline's national environmental impact assessment. The statement will be taken into account when the permitting decisions are made in Finland during autumn 2009.
"We are satisfied with the authorities stating that the Finnish EIA process has been completed," said Nord Stream's head of EU relations Sebastian Sass. "This means that the project is on schedule. We have already cooperated with the authorities intensively for several years. We will now familiar ourselves with the statement and provide all necessary additional clarifications. Our aim is for the pipeline to be the safest and soundest possible," he added.
The objective of the EIA process, according to the press release, was to assess the environmental effects of the project, to ensure that environmental impact is taken into account in planning the project as well as in the Finnish authorities' decision-making process. The EIA process also provided the public with information and the opportunity to participate in the process.
The statement issued by the coordinating authority, the Uusimaa Environment Center, confirms that the participation arrangements were sufficient and met the requirements of the Finnish EIA law. For example, the discussions with the authorities and other stakeholders contributed to the environmental impact assessment, which is taken into account in the project planning.
The EIA report and the Uusimaa Environment Center's statement will be considered when the Finnish permits are to be decided. The permits that need to be issued are the EEZ permit from the Ministry of Employment and Economy, and the water permit from the Western Finland Environmental Permitting Authority. The transboundary impact on Finland from other countries and the impact from the Finnish EEZ on other countries are described in Nord Stream's Espoo Report.
Nord Stream and Nabucco will both make an important contribution in countering impending under-supply in European gas markets, say the projects' proponents. Nord Stream will directly link Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea seabed, bypassing the Baltic States and Poland.
Nord Stream plans to have the first of two parallel pipelines operational in 2011. Each line is approximately 1,220 kilometers long, providing a transport capacity of some 27.5 billion cubic meters per year. Full capacity of about 55 billion cubic meters per year will be reached in the second phase, when the second line goes on stream.