Russian gas monopoly Gazprom said Tuesday it had bought mining rights north of Berlin that would allow it to build Europe's biggest natural-gas storage site.

The controversial North European Gas Pipeline (NEGP), to be built under the Baltic Sea, will supply the gas from Russian gasfields. It will be injected under pressure into the rock in Germany till it is needed.

Gazprom already indirectly owns other European rock storage sites, such as that at Rehden, Germany, which stock up in summer, then pump out the gas again in winter when demand peaks.

Andreas Hieckmann, chief of the project, said in the town of Waren that German subsidiary Gazprom Germania had acquired rights to use rock layers at Hinrichshagen and Schweinrich.

One of the 650-metre-deep bodies of rock could hold 5 percent of Germany's entire annual consumption.

The NEGP, which is opposed by Poland and other nations which will be sidetracked, is set to be commissioned in 2010. The pipe will emerge from the sea at Lubmin on the coast north of Berlin.

Copyright 2007 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH