Work on a controversial pipeline to bring gas from Russia to Germany has been officially launched. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and Germany’s economy minister, Michael Glos, performed the honours.
The pipeline will supply Germany, and eventually other western European states, with much of their energy needs after it is completed in 2010. The 1,200 kilometre-long construction will run under the Baltic Sea bypassing Urkaine and Poland through which an existing pipeline runs. The project is viewed dimly by Kiev and Warsaw as they currently earn revenues as a transit route for Russian gas. They also pay less than the market rate for the resource as part of the deal to let it pass through their territory. The two countries have historic grievances with Russia and Germany and the pipeline has further undermined relations. Russia’s Gazprom, which along with BASF of Germany is behind the project, says it will mean cheaper energy prices in western Europe.