The Backwaters Of Nord Stream


Recently the Nord Stream AG company website joyously reports to all about how the world’s largest pipeline-laying vessel Solitaire has completed its complex of works with respect to the laying of the first line of the «Nord Stream» gas pipeline. In just ten months of work, three pipeline laying vessels have already laid 1000 km of pipeline, consisting of 83,300 pieces. This comprises two of the three sections of the first line. The remaining 220 km of the first line will be completed by the vessel Castoro Sei of the Saipem company in April 2011.

We have completed laying the most complex part of the gas pipeline according to schedule. As of today on the bottom of the Baltic Sea already more than 80% of the first line of the «Nord stream» has been laid,” – said deputy director of Nord Stream for construction Ruurd Hoekstra. “The laying is being carried out precisely along the route agreed upon with the state organs of Russia and Finland. I am pleased to report that everything has gone according to plan.

The joyous summaries from the front of the construction of the gas pipeline on the Baltic echo the joyous, after all, appearances of head of Gazprom Alexey Miller about how all works with respect to the preparation of the South Stream for construction on the Black Sea are also going according to schedule.

You know, I too am happy for Gazprom – Putin’s favorite child. I am glad that there are people in my country who know how to put tasks before themselves and to attain their fulfillment. Only those who are personally and strongly interested in the end result can work with such efficiency and enthusiasm. The executives of Gazprom and their masters, apparently, are very interested in what to sell Russian gas every which way.

And all would be fine and dandy, but…

Here’s a recent item from the rayon newspaper of Babayevo Rayon of Vologda Oblast. But before that – a bit of background. The trunk pipeline that was built especially for connecting the gas branch lines of Russia with the pipe on the Baltic goes through Babayevo Rayon). Its construction became possible thanks to the fact that the local population believed Gazprom’s promises to run gas to local consumers. This was in the year 2005. It was assumed that lines of smaller diameter would be run from the trunk pipeline in order that the local inhabitants, sitting for decades without gas, could also get their, Russian, gas.

However, the years go by, and yet there never has been gas in the houses of the Babayevites, nor is there any now.

This is spoken of in the item under the name widespread in the USSR and the RF «But the cart is still there…»: «I am writing at the request of the residents of multiple-apartment houses №62, 62-a, 64-a along Pushkin street to the town in Babayevo. In January of this year we gathered the inhabitants of the houses, wrote applications, entered into agreements with raygaz (the rayon gas utility). The chief of raygaz assured us that we would have gas by the beginning of the heating season. In June for a fee they gave out technical conditions for the apartments to us. As an example, I’ve got a two-room apartment, I paid 9600 rubles. In the summer we hired an excavator and a bulldozer, so as to run pipes to our houses from the pipe that goes along the street. The gas workers threw the pipes at us and all the work ended with this. We called on raygaz frequently, but… without results. People in the apartments took apart stoves in the summer, did not store up firewood for the winter, hoped that blue fuel would come into their apartments, but the cart is still there…Tell us, why do they deceive us all the time?»

T. RYABKOVA, town of Babayevo.

Head of the Babayevo municipal rayon O.L. TISHIN replies:

With the given question inhabitants of this street have turned to me. The principal pipe along the street, indeed, they laid back in the summer, at the same time pipes were run to the houses. But the project, at the moment of the construction works, had not passed the necessary expert assessment. Documents for getting the expert assessment have been submitted, a series of changes have been introduced into the project documentation. As soon as the conclusion is received, raygaz will get the right to feed gas into the pipe. In the nearest time this question is going to have to be resolved and the gas will be given. Why were works with respect to interconnecting intra-house networks not continued – this question, I think, should be answered by Babayevo raygaz chief V.V. Metlev.

It just so happened that I had been several times in this Babayevo and had conversed several times with Tishin. Tishin had said to me directly that Gazprom had deceived their expectations: in order to cut into the Gazprom trunk, the local inhabitants need not only to pay big money (9600 rubles – this is far from the biggest sum, apparently, this house is found not far from the principal pipe). The majority of the people do not have this kind of money. About the situation when Russian gas, bypassing Russia, goes away for sale, we have already written in our blog more than once. So it would be appropriate for us too to write the headline «But the cart is still there…»

I shall remind other facts and numbers as well: the agreement with respect to «Nord stream» was signed in the year 2005. In that same year the Chinese signed a similar agreement on the construction of a gas pipeline from Turkmenia. In the year 2006 the Chinese-Turkmen gas pipeline was built. It cost them 2 bln dollars.

According to the assessments of specialists, Nord Stream is going to cost a sum of 16 bln dollars. And into operation it will enter no earlier than the year 2012.

…About when Russians will get t Russian gas, the specialists have a hard time answering.

Grigory Pasko

Grigory Pasko is a Russian journalist and publisher of an environmental magazine. In November 1997 Pasko was arrested by FSB agents in Vladivostok and accused of espionage for publications on the environmental problems in the Japanese sea but found not guilty due to lack of evidence. He was found guilty of “abuse of his official position,” but released immediately under a general amnesty. He was recognized as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. His articles appear at Robert Amsterdam's website ( and are reprinted with permission.

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