NordStream construction begins over Baltic protests

  • 2010-03-29
  • Oskars Magone

The Nord Stream project will eventually connect Russia to Germany, transferring billions of cubic meters of gas per year. (photo: Samuel Bailey)

MOSCOW - The first ship that will begin laying pipes for the Nord Stream project has begun its journey, marking the beginning of a project that has seen harsh opposition from the Baltic States.

The 150 meter-long Castoro 6, refurbished in the Netherlands, will start laying the pipes in Swedish waters, about 60 km off the coast of the Swedish island of Gotland, the company said Monday.

The highly controversial Nord Stream project will see an underwater pipeline connect Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea. The three Baltic States have all voiced opposition to the project, along with numerous other Eastern European countries.

Vytautas Landbergis, the leader of Lithuania’s Sąjūdis movement, said the project represented a new Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

In addition to environmental concerns, the Baltics fear that the pipeline will make Europe too dependent on Russia for its energy needs. There are also fears that Russia will not be able to arbitrarily cut off gas supplies to Eastern Europe without affecting the large Western European market.

All doubts about whether the project would see the light of day were put to rest earlier this month, when the company announced that it had secured $5.2 billion from 26 banks and guarantees from credit agencies to start building the natural gas pipeline.