Last week, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin launched a major pipeline that will start pumping gas to Western Europe as soon as next month. With the click of a computer mouse in front of flashing cameras, Putin opened the valve to let the gas into the first Nord Stream pipeline at the Portovaya compressor station at the Russian-Finnish border.
Nord Stream is a 765-mile long natural gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea directly linking Russia and the European Union. With Line 1 of the twin pipeline system now open, it will begin contributing to the energy security of the European Union, helping it to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals. When Nord Stream becomes fully operational by the end of 2012, the two lines will have the capacity to supply 55 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Russian gas a year to the EU for at least 50 years.
Alexey Miller, CEO of Gazprom (Which owns the controlling stake of Nord Stream), had this to say on the project:
“Nord Stream has a special significance for meeting the growing gas demand of the European market. It will be the first direct link between the world’s largest natural gas reserves located in Russia and the European gas transmission system. The project is progressing strictly according to the schedule, and first commercial gas supplies via the first string of Nord Stream will soon reach the European Union. The entire gas volume to be supplied under the project is already contracted by major international energy companies. The commissioning of Nord Stream, the longest offshore gas trunkline worldwide, is a milestone in the global gas industry history.”
The Nord Stream pipeline is huge on the political level as well because it represents a lasting commitment in the EU-Russia partnership. The project has set new benchmarks for international teamwork and collaboration between partners and suppliers across Europe and Russia.