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Finland grants final permit for new Russia-Germany gas pipeline, but project remains uncertain

Despite Finland's approval, the Nord Stream 2 project hangs in the balance after German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced concerns over Ukraine's eventual role in delivering Russian natural gas to Europe last week.

Nord Stream kaasuputken pääteasema Lubminissa lähellä Greifswaldia, Saksassa.
File photo of Nord Stream's end station near Greifwald, Germany. Image: Stefan sauer / EPA

Finland has approved plans for a new undersea LNG pipeline between Russia and Germany.

Last Thursday Finnish authorities issued the second of two permits required for the construction of an LNG pipeline in Finnish waters of the Baltic Sea.

According to Nord Stream, the multinational project has received permit approvals required from Germany. But roughly a week ago German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that the country's support of the Nord Stream project hinges on clarity about the role of Ukraine in a Russian gas pipeline to Europe.

Eastern European and Baltic states have reportedly expressed fears that the pipeline would make Europe too reliant on Russian gas, as well as undermine Ukraine's role in gas distribution to Europe, according to news agency Reuters.

Finland's chief concerns environmental

At the beginning of April, the Finnish government announced that it had approved the first of two permits required for the construction of Nord Stream 2 in Finnish Baltic Sea territorial waters.

The second permit for Nord Stream 2, required under the Finnish Water Act, was issued by the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland last Thursday.

The portion of the new pipeline in Finnish waters would measure some 374 km, with the entire pipeline measuring some 1,200 km and it would run close to an existing gas pipeline on the floor of the Baltic Sea.

Old wartime munitions require removal

The administrative agency said the biggest environmental impact the pipeline's construction would have first involves the removal of some 87 undetonated wartime bombs from the area.

It said that explosions of the old munitions would harm wildlife like seals, fish and birds.

Nord Stream said it was awaiting permit approval from Russia, Sweden and Denmark, and added that the applications are proceeding as planned.

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