Merkel, Medvedev To Inaugurate Natural Gas Pipeline

The leaders of Germany and Russia are planning to inaugurate the Nord Stream pipeline, a strategic pipeline laid beneath the Baltic Sea to carry Russian natural gas to Western Europe.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Dmitry Medvedev top a guest list that also includes the prime ministers of France and the Netherlands, Francois Fillon and Mark Rutte, and EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger.

The ceremony in the northeastern German town of Lubmin on November 8 celebrates the arrival of the first Russian natural gas through the 1,224-kilometer-long pipeline into the European grid.

Nord Stream says that once operational in late 2012, it will transport 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year to the EU for at least half a century — enough to supply 26 million homes.

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

EU members 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.

compiled from agency reports

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