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10 Mar, 2009 07:20

Nord Stream waits for Swedish decision on environment

Sweden is still blocking approval of the vast Nord Stream pipeline, claiming more ecological tests are necessary before it can allow construction through its economic zone.

Sweden, which takes over the EU presidency in July of this year aims to highlight the ecology of the Baltic Sea and energy security.

So it was no surprise those were the topics Victor Zubkov discussed with the deputy prime minister and Minister for Enterprise and Energy, Maud Olofsson. The Russian Deputy Prime Minister said the Swedish side seemed inclined to accomplish the Nord Stream project.

“Now it’s important to have all agreements and approvals for Nord Stream. We've met all the requests of Swedish side. The route circumvents the chemical weapons that possibly lie on the seabed, and boats without moorings will be used to avoid disturbing the seabed and there will be no service platform in Swedish economic waters.”

Sweden is the last country to say approve the Nord Stream project that will carry 55 billion cubic meters of gas to European consumers

Alternative routes are essential for Russia to bypass Ukraine, as well as for European countries that want to ensure there are no disruptions to their supplies of fuel. The Nord Stream consortium has spent over 120 million dollars on environmental impact studies. Elena Gorokhova, Associate Professor at Stockholm University says the Swedes are looking for more detail.

“No definite threats to the Baltic sea have emerged. Rather risk assessment for this entire project should be addressed in more detail, with greater depth, and in a more professional way.”

Russia – with the largest gas reserves – awaits a united decision on the construction of the 1200km pipeline along the Baltic seabed.

Although the planned pipeline route lies outside Sweden's territorial waters, it is within the country's exclusive economic zone for which the country bears responsibility for environmental damage. With the pipeline operator preparing environmental studies, it will take at least 3 month for Sweden to ensure all environmental threats has been addressed. This may lead to further delays in the project’s construction which is already expected to be delayed until 2010.