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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Finland Approves Nord Stream Environmental Impact Report

The proposed Nord Stream gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea poses no serious environmental threat to Finland and can move forward to the next step in the approval process, Finnish environmental authorities said Thursday.

Finland “considers the performed environmental impact assessment to be sufficient in its fundamental aspects,” the Uusimaa Regional Environment Center said, adding that additional studies of the fishing impact and how follow-up monitoring will be conducted are necessary.

Gazprom-led Nord Stream, a planned 1,200-kilometer gas pipeline connecting Russia directly with Germany, will pass through Russian, Finnish, Swedish, Danish and German territorial waters. The project has raised concern that construction could dislodge World War II munitions on the Baltic seabed and hurt the ecosystem.

Thursday’s approval of the environmental report prepared by Nord Stream moves the Finnish permitting process forward, allowing the government to begin considering an application for the use of Finland’s Baltic Sea economic zone. The Western Finland Environmental Permit Authority will also consider permits for clearing naval mines from the pipeline’s route.

“This is an important step forward,” said Sebastian Sass, Nord Stream’s permitting manager. “We are committed to providing further investigations if required.”

Russia approved the environmental report in November and the assessments are ongoing in Sweden, Denmark and Germany, Sass said. Gazprom owns 51 percent of Nord Stream, with BASF and E.On each holding 20 percent and Gasunie 9 percent.

The project’s budget, 7.4 billion euros ($10.4 billion), may be positively affected by the falling costs of raw materials, Sass said. Nord Stream expects to finalize negotiations this year with external investors, who will provide two-thirds of the gas pipeline’s funding, he said.

The financial crisis “has awakened investor interest in basic infrastructure projects deemed safe, necessary and funded by the owners,” Sass said. “It’s a safe investment with long-term returns.”