Lithuanian scientist warns of undersea construction scramble

Lithuanian scientist warns of undersea construction scramble Vilnius - A Lithuanian scientist told parliamentarians Wednesday that two major infrastructure projects planned to run beneath the Baltic Sea could get in each others' way, raising the possibility of a seabed scramble to finish first.

Speaking to journalists after briefing the Lithuanian parliament's environment committee, Janina Baksiene of Vilnius University's department of ecology said the Nord Stream gas pipeline project running north to south beneath the waves and the Swedlink electricity link running east to west could conflict with each other.

Nord Stream is a 1200-kilometre-long pipeline that would bring Russian natural gas under the Baltic Sea directly to Germany.

Swedlink would be a power cable between Sweden and either Latvia or Lithuania, linking the Baltic and Nordic energy grids.

Poland and the Baltic states have been opponents of Nord Stream, which bypasses them.

If Nord Stream is completed first, it might make the construction of Swedlink problematic, Baksiene said.

"We would have to receive their permission because the pipeline crosses the Baltic Sea from north to south," she said.

For that reason, it would be a good idea to build Swedlink before Nord Stream, she argued.

The European Union has allocated 175 million euros (240 million dollars) for the construction of Swedlink, provided construction begins by 2010, with an estimated completion date of 2016.

However, Nord Stream says the first of the two parallel pipelines in its 7.4-billion-euro plans will be completed in 2011 with a second line due to be finished in 2012. (dpa)