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Nord Stream participants ready to readjust route - Putin


HELSINKI, June 3 (RIA Novosti) - Participants in the project to lay the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea are ready to alter the route in line with Finland's environmental concerns, the Russian prime minister said on Wednesday.

Vladimir Putin arrived in Finland on Wednesday for talks with his Finnish counterpart, Matti Vanhanen, seeking Finland's approval for the Nord Stream pipeline to bring Russian natural gas to Europe.

"Participants in the project are ready to lay any route that will be more acceptable to Finland," Putin told reporters after the talks.

The construction of the 6 billion-euro pipeline, due to eventually pump 55 billion cu m of gas per year to Western Europe bypassing traditional transit nations, has been repeatedly delayed over Baltic nations' environmental and security concerns.

President Tarja Halonen said in April that Finland's concerns on the project were purely environmental, and that she hoped they would be tackled by June.

Putin stressed the importance of the pipeline for Europe, saying: "The issue is whether our European partners... wish to get our cheap gas or have it condensed through a mediator."

Vanhanen described the Nord Stream project as "strategic" and said Finland appreciates that Central Europe needs gas.

"I am sure that taking into account all environmental rules and requirements, such a gas pipeline can be built," the Finnish premier said.

Vanhanen also said Finland would complete an environmental impact review of the project by the end of June, and that the country's State Council would consider using the country's economic zone to lay the pipeline in September-October.

Nord Stream 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%.

Russia provides 100% of Finland's gas requirements, and some 70% of its crude oil supplies.

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