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Dutch company joins Nord Stream pipeline

After a year of negotiations, Dutch gas company Gasunie has joined the Nord Stream project – the pipeline that will bypass several European countries to ship Russian gas directly to Germany.

The Dutch company became the fourth and final partner, taking a nine per cent stake in the project. Gazprom owns 51 per cent of the Nord Stream. The other two partners are Germany's B.A.S.F. and E.ON.

The €12 billion project is to link Germany and Russia via an undersea gas pipeline along the Baltic seabed.

On Tuesday the Dutch Prime Minister, Jan Peter Baalken-Ende, met Vladimir Putin in Moscow. They discussed trade relations and gave their blessing to the deal. President Putin says Dutch involvement in the Nord Stream project will make it truly international.

So far, the Nord Stream project has not gone smoothly. When Germany and Russia signed the deal, many European countries were against it. They wanted to re-route the pipeline, planned to pass under the Baltic Sea. But in a recent development, the Swedish Prime Minister said it can go via Swedish waters.

Gazprom will get access to the British gas market through the Gasunie pipeline between the Netherlands and Britain. A Gazprom official said the company is planning to get 10 per cent of the British gas market by 2010. It is believed that in their turn E.ON and B.A.S.F. will get access to upstream assets of Gazprom.

The deal is also good news for Gasunie. With guaranteed access to the Gazprom supply, the Dutch company can go a long way towards fulfiling its goal of becoming the largest gas distributor in Europe.

Analysts see the Dutch company as having a key role in enabling Gapzrom to increase its presence in the European market.

Gasunie is a gas infrastructure company which holds 12,000 km of pipelines in Europe. It is based in the Netherlands because that country has the largest gas storage in Europe. It is also the biggest hub in gas transportation through European countries.