Merkel and Medvedev Open New Gas Pipeline

Merkel and Medvedev Open New Gas Pipeline

Published: November 9, 2011 (Issue # 1682)

LUBMIN, Germany — Leaders of Germany and Russia are opening a 7.4 billion euro ($10.2 billion) natural gas pipeline that links western Europe directly with Siberia’s vast gas reserves.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Dmitry Medvedev met Tuesday in the village of Lubmin on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast, where the (1,200-kilometer) Nord Stream underwater pipeline reaches land.

The pipeline is to ferry the gas from Vyborg, near St. Petersburg, under the Baltic to Lubmin. That creates a direct link between the Russian and western European networks — circumventing sometimes troublesome traditional overland transit routes through Ukraine, Belarus and Poland.

Once the project is complete, gas will flow to Europe through two pipelines. The first line, being inaugurated Tuesday, will have an annual capacity of 27.5 billion cubic meters.

That volume will double once the second line is completed — expected next year. Nord Stream says it’s the world’s longest underwater pipeline.

Europe currently gets about 25 percent of its natural gas from Russia, which sits on the world’s largest reserves. The gas is mostly ferried through Soviet-era pipelines crossing the Baltic states, Poland and Ukraine.

The new pipeline received high-level political backing in Germany, but officials in Poland and Ukraine, bypassed by the pipeline, have given the project at best a lukewarm welcome.

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