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Baltic Sea gas pipeline gets German approval

December 28, 2009

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BERLIN—German authorities granted formal approval Monday to build a pipeline to transport natural gas under the Baltic Sea from Russia, meaning that just one permit from Finland is still outstanding, the company running the project said.

Nord Stream AG said Germany's Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency granted a permit to build a 19-mile (31-kilometer) stretch of the pipeline in Germany's exclusive economic zone.

Nord Stream already has a second German permit covering the 31-mile (50-kilometer) section in German territorial waters, and has permits from Denmark, Sweden and Russia, through whose waters the pipeline will pass.

"We are firmly on schedule to start construction of the pipeline in spring 2010 and to start transporting gas in 2011," Nord Stream managing director Matthias Warnig said in a statement.

The only permit still outstanding for the euro7.4 billion ($10.6 billion) project is one of two required from Finland, the consortium said.

Once completed, the 750-mile (1,200-kilometer) pipeline is expected to carry 55 billion cubic meters of gas a year from the Russian port of Vyborg to the German port of Greifswald.

Russia's Gazprom holds 51 percent of the joint venture. German energy companies E.ON Ruhrgas AG and Wintershall AG each hold 20 percent, while Dutch company Nederlandse Gasunie NV holds the remaining 9 percent.