Report: No Nord Stream in Estonian Waters
by Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa)
August 01, 2007
The Estonian government should not allow a consortium behind a controversial gas pipeline to construct it in Estonian waters, according to a new academic report cited by Estonian media on Wednesday.
Possible Russian military presence and potential harm to the
environment should force the government to deny a request from the
Nord Stream consortium to conduct an environmental study in Estonian
waters, the daily Postimees said quoting the report by the country's
Academy of Sciences.
"Neutral states like Finland and Sweden can allow the presence of
the Russian armed forces and (Russian natural gas company) Gazprom
armed operatives in their economic zones or territorial waters, but
as NATO members Estonia and Poland cannot allow that," the report
In April, Nord Stream asked Estonian authorities to measure the
depth of the Baltic Sea in Estonian waters to determine if it was
possible to shift the pipeline south of the Finnish coast. The
authorities turned to scientists for an opinion.
The Russian military may use submarines to protect the pipeline
because of how deep under water it would be constructed, the
report suggests. Furthermore, last month, the Russian government
allowed Gazprom, a stakeholder in the project, to employ its own
armed operatives instead of contracting an outside security firm.
Gazprom has stressed its 2005 agreement with German firms E.ON and
BASF to lay a 1,200-kilometer gas pipeline, known as Nord Stream,
direct from Russia to Germany, saying it would boost Europe's energy
The Estonian government will decide whether to allow the study
once it returns from the summer break at the end of the month,
spokeswoman for the Estonian environment ministry Anari Lilleoja told Deutsche Presse Agentur, dpa.
The pipeline has been the subject of bitter dispute in the Baltic
region ever since in was first proposed in 2005. Many of the states
bordering the Baltic have argued that it could disturb stores of
chemical weapons dumped in the sea after World War Two.
So far more than 20,000 people, mostly from the Baltic states,
have signed a petition to stop the construction of the pipeline.
The Estonian environment ministry suggests that weapons dumps have
been located in Estonian waters, but the maps pinpointing them are
very old and intensive research would have to be carried out to avoid the risk of an environmental disaster.
If completed, the pipeline would create separate routes for Russia
to supply gas to Eastern and Western Europe.
As a result, the EU's Eastern European member states have
complained that it would allow Russia to cut off their gas supplies - as it did to Ukraine in January 2006 - without affecting supplies to its richer Western clients.
The Ukrainian gas crisis heightened fears that Moscow would be
willing to use its energy resources to exert political pressure in
any disputes with its former satellites.
And in recent months Russia has harshly criticized Estonia's
relocation of a Red Army monument from the centre of Tallinn to a
less prominent location - leaving many Estonian politicians skeptical of Russia's goodwill.
Copyright 2007 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH
Nord Stream Pipeline
Nord Stream AG
Vyborg, Russia to Greifswald, Germany Russian Federation