Baltic Sea pipeline consortium drops service platform

Stockholm  -  A consortium that plans to build an underwater Baltic Sea gas pipeline from Russia to Germany said Tuesday it has dropped plans to build a service platform east of the Swedish Baltic Sea island Gotland.

Nord Stream, the Russian-German joint venture, said it had revised its application and had concluded the service platform was no longer necessary.

The 1,200-kilometre pipeline was to run from Vyborg in Russia to Greifswald, Germany, and was planned to pass through the Swedish economic zone, east of Gotland.

The platform has been questioned by critics of the project, including Swedish military experts and politicians such as former defence minister Mikael Odenberg. They have cited concerns that the platform could figure in a possible political crisis.

Nord Stream said it had concluded that maintenance of the pipeline could be conducted by other means, so-called pipeline pigs or devices inserted into the pipeline making the service platform obsolete.

In February, Stockholm said it wanted more details from about the plans, including an alternative route for the whole pipeline.

Nord Stream has said it had no plans to build a land-based route.

Recently, the consortium raised its estimates for the costs from 5 to 7.4 billion euros (7.3 - 11.6 billion dollars), citing higher steel prices and increased costs for technical and environmental security.

Although Sweden is not dependent on Russian energy exports the country would benefit from several hundred jobs for the supplies of pipeline material at a harbour on Gotland and two locations in southern Sweden, Nord Stream has said. (dpa)