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LUBMIN, Germany, November 8 (Itar-Tass) —— The first line of the Nord Stream gas pipeline connecting Russia and Germany across the Baltic Sea has been started up and opened a new page in Russia’s energy cooperation with Germany and the entire European Union.
President Dmitry Medvedev, who is paying an official visit to Germany, German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon attended the startup ceremony. These states are shareholders of the Nord Stream operating company. European Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger was there too.
Nord Stream is a 1,220-kilometer-long offshore natural gas pipeline stretching through the Baltic Sea, from Vyborg, Russia to Greifswald, Germany, built by Nord Stream AG. Nord Stream is a joint project of four major companies: Gazprom, BASF/Wintershall Holding AG, E.ON Ruhrgas AG and N.V. Nederlandse Gasunie.
Initially one pipeline was built with a transport capacity of around 27.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas per annum. In the second phase, a parallel pipeline will be laid to double the annual transport capacity to around 55 billion cubic meters. The second line may be ready in 2012.
Gazprom built a 917-kilometer-long on-shore connection of Nord Stream to the Russian gas transmission system. Two on-shore connections from Greifswald to the south and west of Germany with a total length of 850 kilometers were built by WINGAS and E.ON Ruhrgas.
Nord Stream runs through the Exclusive Economic Zones of Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany as well as through the territorial waters of Russia and Germany.
The route was selected and optimized on the basis of an integrated evaluation of technical, environmental, cultural and economic factors. An integrated feasibility study conducted in 1997-1999 considered several alternative routes and landfall locations. The proposed route was judged the most feasible.
Places of WW2 munitions burial and other sensitive zones were taken into account in the pipeline planning in order to avoid environmental damage. The Nord Stream operator evaluated the possible impact of the pipeline on the environment. That was the most detailed environmental study ever done and it cost 100 million euros. The report was presented to the authorities of the five states through whose exclusive economic zones and/or territorial waters the pipeline was laid.
The countries permitted to start building the undersea segment of the pipeline in October-December 2009. Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia took part in the international consultations. A constant environmental control system daily evaluates the situation along the pipeline’s entire route by 16 parameters, and quarterly reports are sent to the environmental authorities of the countries through which the pipeline goes.
Nord Stream will carry gas to Germany, from where it can be transported onwards to Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, and France. The project is open for planning peripheral pipelines to other European countries and regions in the North and West.
In all, the project costs 7.4 billion euros. Nord Stream and 26 banks signed an agreement on a loan of 3.9 billion euros for the first phase of the project on March 16, 2010.