The planned Nord Stream 2 AG natural gas pipeline, stretching through the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany reached a significant milestone after Finland granted the first of two required permits for the project on Thursday.
The government's approval is conditional however, with the provision that the project take into consideration environmental concerns in the region.
The stretch of two parallel pipelines in Finnish waters would measure some 374 km in length, with the entire pipeline measuring some 1,200 km.
When and if completed, the pipeline will begin at Vyborg, Russia and terminate at Greifswald, Germany. The Nord Stream 2 project is run by the multi-national energy consortium Nord Stream.
Second decision awaits
A decision on the second required permit, made by the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland, is expected to arrive in the coming weeks, according to a Nord Stream brief on the matter issued Thursday.
The state agency is also expected to carry out an assessment on the environmental impact of the project.
Several European countries — particularly Finland's Baltic neighbours —have voiced unease about the pipeline project regarding geopolitical security issues.
Some have speculated that advanced technologies could enable the installation of various types of surveillance gear on the pipeline, while others have warned that a gas pipeline originating in Russia could increase the country's geo-political muscle.
The chief concerns Finland has voiced about the project were environmental in scope, however.
According to construction plans, Nord Stream 2 is set to be constructed alongside an existing Nord Stream pipeline. Assembly of the large pipes is expected to be carried out during this and next year and be taken into commercial use by the year 2020.