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17 Mar, 2016 11:02

Eight EU countries petition to block Nord Stream-2 gas project

Eight EU countries petition to block Nord Stream-2 gas project

The leaders of eight European countries have signed a letter objecting to Russia's Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline project on the grounds of its "potentially destabilizing geopolitical consequences", according to a document seen by Reuters.

The copy of the letter, addressed to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, was signed by the leaders of Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.

Croatia has signed the letter as well, anonymous EU sources told the agency, but the country’s government couldn’t immediately confirm it.

The European leaders express concern the project might strongly affect gas market development and gas transit policy in the region, mainly the transit route via Ukraine.

“The Nord Stream-2 project that is currently under preparation can pose certain risks for energy security in the region of central and eastern Europe,” the document says.

Ukraine is a key transit route for Russian gas to Europe. The contract for gas transit via Ukraine to the European Union was signed by Gazprom and Ukraine’s Naftogaz in 2009 and expires at the end of 2019.

READ MORE: Poland opposed to 'political' gas pipeline

Earlier this month, European Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maros Sefcovic said Ukraine should remain an important transit country for gas supplies to Europe.

READ MORE: EU wants Ukraine to remain key transit country for Russian gas

The Nord Stream-2 project aims to double gas supplies shipped directly from Russia to Germany to 110 billion cubic meters per year. Gazprom sees the pipeline as the most efficient solution to ensure Europe's energy security.

Earlier this year, German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said the project would go ahead only if Russia did not cut off Ukraine and eastern European gas flows.

The project has been a matter of contention for several months since Russia failed to get EU approval to build the South Stream gas pipeline to Southern Europe. EU leaders sent a petition to the Commission to block Nord Stream-2 in December. The project flouted EU rules, according to European Council President Donald Tusk.

Russia's energy major Gazprom already operates the Nord Steam pipeline that delivers natural gas from Vyborg in Russia to Griefswald in Germany under the Baltic Sea bypassing Ukraine.