Finland's study of Baltic
by Guardian Unlimited
Finland expects to be ready with its environmental evaluation of the planned Russia-Germany gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea only in late 2008, it said on Tuesday, putting pressure on the link's tight building schedule.
The participants this month confirmed the timetable for the project to enter service by the end of 2010, but the environmental impact assessment has taken longer than expected.
"We are taking very seriously all those environmental consequences. This is our main concern," Finnish Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva told a news conference.
"That issue will be ready in one year's time," he said.
The environmental impact assessment is scheduled to be delivered by the company carrying it out to Finnish authorities in April 2008. Public hearings and evaluation will take months after that.
The project is led by Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom and involves German firms BASF and E.ON.
Earlier this month Dutch state pipeline operator Gasunie became the fourth partner in the 5 billion euro ($7.42 billion) scheme.
The countries around the Baltic
Sea are divided over the 1,200 km (745.6 miles) pipeline that will take 55 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas a year directly from Russia to Germany.
The Baltic states and Poland fear the link may increase Russia's influence. Sweden and Finland are uneasy over the environmental impact, including the effect of stirring up sediment.
There has also been concern over the presence of World War Two munitions, including chemical weapons, that were dumped in the Baltic.
(Reporting by Tarmo Virki, editing by Anthony Barker)