Nov. 8 - Russia has opened what will be the biggest post-Soviet era natural gas pipeline to Europe, saying it will help reduce the risk of supply disruptions despite the threat of it aggravating political divisions on the continent. Sonia Legg reports.
It cost 7.3 billion euros and will carry natural gas from Russia to Europe. Russia's President says the Nord Stream pipeline will also help reduce the risk of supply disruptions on the continent. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSSIAN PRESIDENT DMITRY MEDVEDEV, SAYING: "Gas from Russia and the energy produced out of it will contribute to a reliable energy supply for European customers. This means, it will strengthen the energy security of Europe and make life for many people more comfortable." The pipeline was officially opened at a ceremony on Germany's Baltic shore. Medvedev was joined by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Germany, France and the Netherlands have all invested in the project but Russia's state-owned Gazprom holds the majority 51 percent stake. (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL, SAYING: "Nord Stream together with the authorities have been able to find balanced solutions. It shows the industry is able to realise large and complex projects in the 21th century in a responsible manner." The pipeline runs from western Siberia to Germany. It's 1,224 kilometres long and is the longest underwater pipeline in the world. Bruno Haegle is a Senior Environmental Officer at Nord Stream. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SENIOR ENVIRONMENTAL OFFICER OF NORD STREAM, BRUNO HAEGLE, SAYING: "What we are able to see so far concerning the environmental monitoring, so far after one year of monitoring there is no or minor impact only. If it's minor it is very short time and very local." The project's main purpose is to lessen Russian reliance on Ukraine piplelines. Price disputes between Kiev and Moscow have led to flows being cut in recent years. But some analysts are warning that bypassing traditional transit nations could divide the continent. Poland and Ukraine certainly see it as an attack on their national interests. Sonia Legg, Reuters.