Nord Stream Consortium Hires Former Finnish Premier

Former Finnish prime minister Paavo Lipponen has been hired as a consultant by a consortium that plans to build an underwater Baltic Sea gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, reports said Friday.

Lipponen, who served as prime minister 1995 to 2003, was to help speed up the application process in Finland and serve as a link between Nord Stream and Finnish authorities, the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper said.

The veteran Social Democrat was an early backer of the project that has generated concerns over its possible impact on the environment as well as calls for a land-based route instead of the planned underwater pipeline.

The 1,200-kilometer pipeline would run from Vyborg in Russia to Greifswald, Germany.

The consortium includes Russian gas giant Gazprom, Germany's BASF/Wintershall and EON Ruhrgas and Dutch group Gasunie.

Earlier this week, Nord Stream published an overview of the project to date.

The report said the Nord Stream AG consortium had considered various routes and concluded that "the off-shore route turns out to be the more environmental friendly," citing that a land-based route would "cross ecologically sensitive areas on land and possibly conflict with alternative land use."

Copyright 2008 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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