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Estonia says "no" to Gazprom pipeline survey

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Estonia says "no" to Gazprom pipeline survey

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The government of Estonia has rejected an application from a Gazprom-backed pipeline project to survey the seabed off its coast. The decision is likely to delay plans to pipe Russian gas directly to Germany. Estonia’s Prime Minister Andrus Ansip’s cited “national issues” as the reason.

The 1,200-kilometer pipeline, planned to run across the Baltic seabed, is opposed by the three Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, supported by Poland. The four intend to submit a proposal to the European Commission that the route for the energy link should run overland.

Moscow-based Gazprom intends to begin construction in 2008. The pipe will carry some 55 billion cubic meters of gas a year and is key to Gazprom’s strategy of increasing deliveries to Europe. One of the reasons behind Estonia’s rejection of the survey is that the required drilling work on the continental shelf would hand Russia information about the extent of Estonia’s natural resources.