MOSCOW, May 20 (RIA Novosti) - One side effect of the Nord Stream project would be an increase in the number of nuclear power plants in Russia, the programs director of Greenpeace Russia said on Wednesday.
The Nord Stream project, to pump natural gas from Russia to Germany and onto Europe via the Baltic Sea, is currently run by Gazprom, with a 51% stake, Germany's Wintershall Holding and E.ON Ruhrgas, holding 20% each, and Dutch Gasunie with 9%.
"What consequences could this project have for the country? New nuclear power plants will be built, because a significant amount of natural gas will have to be exported. That's an open secret - this much is evident from energy strategies and other official documents of the Russian Federation," Ivan Blokov told a roundtable at RIA Novosti.
A WWF Russia expert said the project had no environmental "contraindications."
"Our experts see no big problems with it; we do not have any particular objections to this project," said Leonid Grigoryev, director of WWF Russia.
Nord Stream is due to eventually pump 55 billion cu m of gas annually. The first 1,200-km leg is to be put into operation in 2010.
Nord Stream's senior project engineer, Simon Bonnell, told the roundtable that Nord Stream AG expected to receive a construction permit by the end of the current year and start construction in the first quarter of 2010.
A number of countries, including Estonia, Poland, Sweden and Finland, are against Nord Stream, saying it would be environmentally dangerous.
The European Union has expressed concerns about being dependent on Russia, which supplies a quarter of its natural gas needs. Calls for diversified supplies intensified following a recent bitter price dispute between Russia and Ukraine, when Moscow cut off gas to Ukraine, affecting consumers across Europe.
Moscow has argued, however, that Nord Stream would cut EU dependence on transit states like Ukraine and improve European energy security.
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