• Germany edition
 
Germany, Russia to launch Nord Stream
Photo: DPA

Germany, Russia to launch Nord Stream

Published: 06 Nov 2011 12:32 GMT+01:00
Updated: 06 Nov 2011 12:32 GMT+01:00

Angela Merkel and Dmitry Medvedev will headline a guest list including the prime ministers of France and the Netherlands, Francois Fillon and Mark Rutte, and EU energy commissioner Günther Oettinger to mark the first of controversial gas links under the Baltic Sea.

The ceremony in the northeastern German town of Lubmin will celebrate the arrival of the first Russian gas through the 1,224-kilometre-long (761 miles) pipeline into the European grid.

Once operational in late 2012, it will transport 55 billion cubic metres (1.9 trillion cubic feet) of gas a year to the EU for at least half a century, enough to supply around 26 million homes, Nord Stream says.

The consortium for the €7.4 billion ($10.2 billion) project is a joint venture between the Russian state-held gas giant Gazprom, German firms BASF and EON, Dutch company Gasunie and GDF Suez of France.

Russia loaded the first gas into the link in September and aims to use it to reduce its dependence on Ukraine and other transit nations where there have been pricing disputes that have in some cases disrupted delivery to Europe.

However, the project has been hotly contested since then Russian president Vladimir Putin and former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder presided over the signing in 2005. Schröder is now chairman of Nord Stream's supervisory board.

Poland and the Baltic states have long voiced fears over the project, which bypasses their territory, arguing they will be on their own when bargaining with Russia for their own gas supplies.

Sweden has raised ecological objections to the massive seabed pipeline, which Gazprom has brushed aside.

"There had been concerns among some but good sense prevailed," Russia's ambassador to Germany, Vladimir Grinin, told AFP.

"Germany's recent decision to abandon nuclear energy, which means that it will have a bigger need for gas in the medium-term, has led many to see more clearly."

Germany this year decided to shut down all of its nuclear power plants by the end of 2022 in reaction to the disaster in March at Japan's Fukushima facility.

Critics say the Kremlin uses Russia's bountiful energy supplies as a strategic weapon to assert its political dominance.

Nord Stream is becoming operational just as the EU re-assesses its own reliance on Russia – currently supplier of more than a quarter of Europe's gas – as its primary energy source.

A Nord Stream spokesman insisted Europe had nothing to fear. "That share (about 25 percent) will not change significantly when this is up and running because consumption is rising at the same time. We may reach around 30 percent," said Jens D. Müller.

An energy expert at Germany's DIW economic institute, Claudia Kemfert, said it would nevertheless be "wise for the West to diversify."

"There is a gas surplus in the world – why fixate on Russia?" she asked, noting the market role to be played by liquefied natural gas.

However, the debate has been coloured by Gazprom's mounting influence, particularly in Germany, where it owns a first-division football club and is in talks with RWE about intensifying cooperation.

RWE is involved in a competing pipeline project to Nord Stream – Nabucco – which is backed by the European Union and the United States. The route it would take, from the Caspian Sea via Turkey and eastern Europe, bypasses both Russia and Ukraine.

"The Nabucco project is already running into trouble, and closer ties between RWE and Gazprom would further decrease its chances," Kemfert said.

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

19:38 November 6, 2011 by derExDeutsche
Wonderful news! Finally all those protests against domestic power production have payed off. Viva la Revolucion! Long live Mother Russia!
16:40 November 11, 2011 by storymann
I like the sarcasm derExDeutsche :-)

This is all love and honey now but wait until Russia thinks you have caused them some unseen problem or they don't like your UN vote , they will shut off your gas.bbrrrrrrrrr!

They have done it more than once in the past, maybe that's it, it was the past and Russia has moved on.
Today's headlines
Lufthansa to resume Tel Aviv flights
A Lufthansa flight at Ben Gurion International Airport. Photo: DPA

Lufthansa to resume Tel Aviv flights

UPDATE: German flag carrier Lufthansa said Friday evening it would resume flights to and from Tel Aviv on Saturday after a four-day suspension due to the conflict in the Gaza strip. READ  

Pro-Gaza, Israel marches choke city centres
Protesters gather in Berlin on Friday. Photo: DPA

Pro-Gaza, Israel marches choke city centres

UPDATE: Pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli demonstrators marched in Berlin and other cities on Friday's International Quds Day, as thousands of police stood ready to deal with excesses, including anti-Semitism that had marred earlier protests. READ  

Finders, keepers for Berlin cash hunt
Money will be hidden around Berlin. Photo: @HiddenCash/Twitter

Finders, keepers for Berlin cash hunt

A California millionaire, who became an internet phenomenon by hiding cash and tweeting hints about its location, is bringing the frenzy to Germany this weekend. READ  

'Police killer' confesses to shooting officer
Officers searching a field on Thursday near the scene of the killing. Photo: DPA

'Police killer' confesses to shooting officer

UPDATE: A suspect has been arrested following the killing of an off-duty police officer in western Germany on Wednesday night. The shooting sparked a large manhunt near Frankfurt on Thursday. READ  

German tourist shot dead in Kenya
Two foreign tourists were murdered in Mombasa this month. Photo: DPA

German tourist shot dead in Kenya

Kenyan police said on Friday a female tourist shot dead in the coastal city of Mombasa was from Germany, the second such killing of a foreign visitor by gunmen there this month. READ  

Firms would back Russia sanctions '100 percent'
Flowers laid to the victims of the MH17 plane crash at the Korporaal van Oudheusdenkazerne army barracks in Hilversum, The Netherlands. Photo: EPA/JERRY LAMPEN

Firms would back Russia sanctions '100 percent'

German industry would support "100 percent" tougher sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis, the chairman of a major business lobby said on Friday. READ  

Expat Dispatches
What do you love about Germany?
Photo: DPA

What do you love about Germany?

This week's Expat Dispatches is gathering a lengthy list of everything we love about Germany. Blogger and writer Liv Hambrett starts with her reasons why she loves the country. READ  

BSkyB to launch pan-European pay-TV giant
The Murdoch media empire is rolling out a vast new pay-TV network through Europe. Photo: DPA

BSkyB to launch pan-European pay-TV giant

UPDATE: Rupert Murdoch's media empire 21st Century Fox has struck a mega deal with British satellite television group BSkyB to create a pan-European pay-TV giant, both companies said on Friday. READ  

German of the Week
Should we all get €12,000 a year?
Martin Bohmeyer has not worked for money in six months. Photo: DPA

Should we all get €12,000 a year?

What would happen if everyone was suddenly paid €1,000 a month with no strings attached? "Let's try it," says Michael Bohmeyer, who raised the money through crowdfunding and will now experiment with the idea of a basic income for one year. READ  

Robber fails because he can't speak German
Communication is key for cops and robbers alike: Photo: DPA

Robber fails because he can't speak German

An armed robber fled a Berlin supermarket empty-handed in frustration over his lack of German language skills. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Education
Top university switches master's courses to English
instagram.com/gotzemario
Gallery
Germany's World Cup stars share their holiday photos
Travel
Plans unveiled for bike trail along former Iron Curtain
Photo: DPA
Sport
Yoga helped Jogi's boys bring World Cup home
Photo: DPA
National
Pressure on police over anti-Semitic protests
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The Local List: 12 best words in German
Photo: DPA
Politics
View from Germany: 'Nobody will win in an economic war with Russia'
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Jobtalk: How innovative is Germany?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
German Bucket List: How many of these can you tick off?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Germany's week in pictures: July 12th - July 18th
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Which workers is Germany short of?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten best expat jobs in Germany: Which one would you choose?
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Photo: Shutterstock
Features
Some of the most embarrassing mistakes you can make in German
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
Sponsored Article
Bilingual school turning education on its head
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,343
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd