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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Safety Check Could Hold Up Nord Stream

Gazprom's Nord Stream pipeline under the Baltic Sea may face additional delays unless it meets the highest ecological safety standards, the environment ministers of Sweden and Finland said Friday.

"It's definitely not just a formal process," Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren said. "We will scrutinize what the effects will be."

Nord Stream, a planned 1,200-kilometer gas pipeline linking Russia to Germany, needs the approval of five Baltic Sea countries before it can be built.

The licensing process for a project the size of Nord Stream typically takes as long as three years, Finnish Environment Minister Kimmo Tiilikainen said in a separate interview.

"It depends on what kind of comments or complaints the different stakeholders declare," Tiilikainen said. "They must be taken into consideration according to our legislation. It's very difficult to estimate the time."

The venture plans to submit environmental impact assessments and permit applications to the five countries -- Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany -- by early next year and start construction 1 1/2 years later.

"We know their hope," Tiilikainen said after he and Carlgren attended a regional conference. "The better they do their work, the quicker the issue will be handled."