The Nord Stream gas pipeline, which aims to bring Siberian gas directly to Germany, bypassing all "problematic" Russian neighbours, was awarded its final building permit today (12 February). Construction is due to begin in April, the consortium announced.
A Finnish 'water permit' was the final authorisation required before construction can begin of the 1,223-kilometre pipeline, which will stretch under the Baltic Sea.
The project had already received all the permits required from the four other countries whose territorial waters or exclusive economic zones the pipeline will cross: Russia, Sweden, Denmark and Germany.
"This is the culmination of four years of intensive studies, consultations and dialogue with the authorities, experts, stakeholders and the public in Finland and other countries through the Baltic Sea region," Nord Stream Managing Director Matthias Warnig said in a statement.
The first gas will be transported through the pipeline at the end of 2011, the statement said.
Warnig thanked the authorities and stakeholders for their contribution to helping find solutions to the many environmental challenges posed by the pipeline to the Baltic Sea ecosystem. "Their support has enabled us to develop this key European energy infrastructure project to world-class safety and environmental standards," Warnig pointed out.
Sebastian Sass, head of Nord Stream's EU representation, recently told EURACTIV that the safety standards of the project were sound, as demonstrated by the green light given by countries like Denmark, which is very sensitive to environmental issues (EURACTIV 22/10/09).
Nord Stream was happy to be able to have produced the largest Baltic Sea environmental study in history, he said.
According to the official, Sweden and Finland will benefit from the fact that this form of gas transportation is much more secure than others. If the same amount were to be transported in LNG tankers, it would fill 600 tankers a year, he said.
Paradoxically, no permission is needed for LNG tankers, despite the fact that the risks posed by such transport are higher, he explained.
Germany, Denmark and Russia will also benefit from transit fees, as the pipe runs through their territorial waters. Sweden and Finland will not, as in their cases the pipe runs through their exclusive economic zones. According to international law no transit duties can be imposed there.