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3 Apr, 2009 15:14

EU delegation takes a close look at Nord Stream

Nord Stream shareholders gathered in Saint-Petersburg, inviting members of European parliaments to discuss the Nord stream project - and to visit the heart of Russia’s gas fields.

1200 kilometres of stability. This is Russia’s guarantee of secure, long-term energy supplies to Europe. It is something that many doubted – even in countries along the route -until they gathered in St Petersburg to hear from the Nord Stream consortium, according to Paul Vandoren from the Delegation of the EU to Russia.

“The need for gas in Europe is so huge that we like to ensure that we have the best possible supplies of gas through several routes. So Nord Stream is important, but not the only one, so we are also working on supplies from other sources.”

Gazprom doesn’t pretend that Nord Stream will be the key source of the blue fuel in Europe. But Aleksandr Medvedev, Deputy CEO of Gapzrom, says it will help bypass some stumbling blocks in the transit network.

“Diversification of the transit routes is the only right answer for the current challenges facing transit, that’s why our transit projects like Nord Stream and South Stream is the real diversification.”

It’s the first time members of various European parliaments have crossed the Arctic Circle to see where Russian gas comes from. Novozapolyarnoye field alone has proven reserves of 3.6 trillion tones of natural gas. One well produces a 100 billion cubic metres of gas a year. It’s a fifth of all the gas extracted by Gazprom. And it’s just one of the wells supplying Nord Stream from Russia’s North. Valery Yazev, Head of the Gas community of Russia says gas fields like this one are a vivid illustration of how long-term contracts will actually work.

“A 100 billion cubic metres of gas a year, what does it mean? Ukraine consumes 75 billion, Germany – needs 90, the planned capacity of Nord Stream is 55 billion cubic metres a year. The operational life of this field is 30 years.”

Nord Stream shareholders say the twin pipeline will be completed on time – in 2012. But before construction even starts, Nord Stream needs permits from the countries whose territorial waters it will pass. Some of them still hesitate to say yes to steady energy supplies for years to come.