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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Navy Hired to Clear Pipe Route

Gazprom has hired the Navy to clear the Baltic Sea bed of dangerous -- even explosive -- ship wreckage for a major underwater gas pipeline to Germany, Russian media reported Wednesday.

Navy chief Admiral Vladimir Masorin told the Defense Ministry's Red Star newspaper that officers would make the seabed safe for the $6.57 billion pipeline, known as Nord Stream, for Gazprom.

"Navy specialists, at the behest of Gazprom, have worked out a program to prepare the sea part of the North-European gas pipeline to clear man-made dangers," Masorin told the newspaper in an interview.

"After a detailed survey of the relief of the seabed, six major objects were found that had not been marked on navigation charts previously" Masorin said. The six objects are four torpedo boats, probably with munitions on board, and two "historical objects."

The pipeline has sparked environmental criticism in some countries, with activists worried that construction work could cause damage to sea life, stir up poisonous material on the seabed or disturb unexploded ordnance left from World War II.

Germany's BASF and E.On have minority stakes in Nord Stream, and have agreed to admit Dutch firm Gasunie as a fourth member with a 9 percent stake.

Nord Stream hopes to begin pumping 27.5 billion cubic meters of gas per year in 2010, with a second pipeline later doubling capacity to 55 bcm.