Russia will begin pumping gas to European countries through the Nord Stream pipeline on Tuesday. The first of the project’s lines is complete, and long term supply agreements have been signed with a number of countries including Britain, France and Germany. Gas will also be sold to Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made the announcement on Monday. Alluding to previous supply problems with pipelines passing through other countries, he said “Gradually, we are avoiding difficulties sometimes caused by transit countries.”
The pipeline was agreed in September 2005 by then German chancellor, Gerhard Schroder, and Putin while he was Russia’s president.
The project has been seen by some as controversial because it increases European dependence on Russian gas. Environmentalists also voiced concerns about disturbing the seabed in the Baltic region, which has had toxic material dumped into it in the past.
To avoid taking the line through a number of countries, it goes underwater linking Russia’s Vyborg to the German city of Greifswald.
Though pumping from the 7.4 billion euro pipeline will begin on Tuesday, the gas is not expected to reach European clients until October or November.