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Grigory Pasko: “Sir, you have made a mistake…”

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«Grigory, you’re not right!»

A representative of the company Nord Stream reacts to an article on the blog

Grigory Pasko, journalist

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On 23 April in the port of Slite on Gotland, I saw how workers were building a new wharf for the needs of the gas pipeline that the company Nord Stream is going to lay along the bottom of the Baltic Sea. At this very time (what an amazing coincidence!) I received a phone call from a representative of the company Nord Stream AG, a Mister Vugar Veysalov, Permitting Manager for the company Nord Stream AG, who gave me a piece of his mind for an article I had posted on the blog robertamsterdam.com.

I will remind readers of the blog about the crux of the matter in question. A letter came to one of the libraries of Vyborg (Leningrad Oblast of Russia) with an offer to place in their collection for open access the results of an expert study of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the «Gryazovets-Vyborg (Portovaya bay)» gas pipeline. In and of itself, the offer is not unusual: two years ago, this same company had already placed EIA materials in the libraries of Vyborg. But what was remarkable this time around was that the letter was accompanied by an offer to do this for payment.


Under Russian law, you can’t do this for money. This detail was the focus ofmy article. I also wrote that the «Gryazovets-Vyborg (Portovaya bay)»gas pipeline – this is the overland portion of the underwater pipelinethat the company Nord Stream is going to lay along the bottom of theBaltic Sea. It was precisely this assertion of mine, that the overlandbranch has something to do with the company Nord Stream, that evokedthe indignation of Mr. Veysalov.

Why? Because this company had at somepoint decided to distance itself from the overland segment, assertingthat «Gazprom» is responsible for everything there.

Strictly speaking, legally, formally, Mister Veysalov is right: onpaper, the overland portion does not enter into the jurisdiction of thefinancial and other relations of the company Nord Stream AG. But allover the world it is known to and understood even by non-specialists:The Russians have contrived to build a pipeline from the settlement ofGryazovets to Portovaya bay only because it is necessary for theunderwater segment of the pipeline – which until just recently wascalled the North-European. That is, from an informal view at thesituation, Mr. Veysalov and all those who stand behind him, are tryingto pull a fast one on us here.

Why? Because even a couple of years agothe information agencies were writing: «Construction of the firststrand of the NEGP began on 9 December 2005 in Vologda. TheNorth-European Gas Pipeline is being built jointly with «Gazprom» andthe German concerns «BASF» and «E.ON» and will go through theaquatorium of the Baltic Sea within the confines of the territorialwaters of Russia, the exclusive economic zones of Finland, Sweden,Denmark, Germany. The endpoint is the receiving terminal in the harborof Greifswald in Germany». (PRIME-TASS, 05.04.2007).

On the official government website of Russia’s Vologda Oblast you can read the following notation:

«Constructionof the grandiose North-European Gas Pipeline, which will go along thebottom of the Baltic Sea, has begun. On Friday, prime-minister MikhailFradkov took part in the solemn ceremony of the welding of the firstseam of the pipe, which will connect Russia and Germany directly,bypassing the territories of middleman-countries. For the sake of suchan event, flying in to the desolate snow-covered Vologdan taiga wereRussian and German ministers, the heads of internationalparticipant-concerns in the construction. Placing their signatures onthe pipe were minister of the economy of Germany Michael Gloss [sic],heads of German partner-companies of “Gazprom” from BASF, E.ON, as wellas the head of Minpromenergo RF [the Ministry of Industry and Energy ofthe Russian Federation], German Gref. All spoke warm words, but themost flattering for “Gazprom” became the words of Vologda governorVyacheslav Pozgalev. “Gazprom” brings high culture and raises theintellect of that oblast where it works. And a great honor has befallenus”, declared Pozgalev.

If the overland segment has nothing to do with Nord Stream, then why was it opened by representatives of BASF, E.ON?

From other sources a couple of years ago one could read: «InDecember of the year 2005 in the town of Babayeov of Vologda Oblast(351 kilometers to the east of Saint Petersburg) began construction ofthe Russian connector segment of the bas pipeline (Gryazovets -Vyborg), with a length of 917 kilometers, which will connect theexisting gas pipelines from Western Siberia with the marine pipelineNord Stream. Transportation of the gas from the Siberian sources to theBaltic shore of Russia will be provided for by seven compressorstations.Two connector pipelines, leading to the south and west ofGermany, with an overall length of 850 km, which on the territory ofGermany will connect Nord Stream with existing systems, will be builtby the companies WINGAS and E.ON Ruhrgas.»

And finally such a report from the INFOLine agency: «An inter-agencycommission for the distribution of production forces on the territoryof Lenoblast [Leningrad Oblast] at a session on 12 October adopted adecision to coordinate the route of the North-European Gas Pipeline onthe Gryazovets – Vyborg sector, reported the press-service of theoblast committee of economic development. OAO “Gazprom” on theGryazovets-Vyborg sector intends to implement construction of theNorth-European Gas Pipeline, providing for the feeding of gas to thestarting point of the marine segment in a volume of 55 bln cub m peryear. As they noted in the press-service, in fact, this is the creationof a second strand of the “Gryazovets-Vyborg” gas pipeline alreadyunder construction. The project was elaborated and presented by OAO”Giprospetzgaz”. The customer for the work is the department ofstrategic development of OAO “Gazprom”. The starting point of the route- the “Gryazovetskaya” compressor station, the end – the entry into theplanned compressor station on the shore of the Gulf of Finland in thearea of Portovaya bay. The right-of-way will pass in one corridor withthe under-construction “Gryazovets-Vyborg” pipeline. The length of thelaying of the pipeline of the second strand – 735 km, of these 216 kmwill pass along the territory of Vologda Oblast and 520 along theterritory of Leningrad Oblast. The gas pipeline will come fully onstream in 2014.»

From this report it is seen completely distinctly and clearly thatthe «Gryazovets – Vyborg» gas pipeline – is the very own child of thatgas pipeline that will be laid along the bottom of the Baltic Sea.

…But really, I’m it occurs to me that we’re not talking about the rightthing here at all. There are far more important and interesting topicsin this whole project: political, financial, and environmental.