7 January 2009
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with Gerhard Schroeder, Nord Stream AG Shareholders’ Committee head
Vladimir Putin: Dear friends and colleagues, I am pleased to greet you in St Petersburg. We are all aware of the present suspense in the European natural gas market. Frau Merkel, the German Chancellor, and I finished detailed discussion of the problem twenty minutes ago. She is greatly concerned, and has advanced a wise initiative-European and other international observers in Russia and Ukraine should monitor the entrance of Russian gas into Ukraine, as well as its exit.
Our Ukrainian partners have had objections to such monitoring until now. I hope they will agree at last. Today's situation stresses how topical our main goal is- by this, I mean our plans for the Nord Stream gas pipeline system to be laid on the Baltic bottom. I think we should discuss the present state of the project in detail now.
I think this day has come to our basic European clients as final proof of how timely the project is, and of the need to implement it as soon as possible. As I know, much has been done already, and we will be happy to take stock of the prospects for its final implementation in all relevant details today.
Gerhard Schroeder (as translated): Mr Chairman, let me start with a remark: I think Frau Merkel's proposal is very wise-as is your approval of it, because your consent graphically demonstrates Russia's interest in guaranteeing steady and reliable gas supplies to Europe. Your consent shows your intention to prevent differences between partners damaging European gas consumers. Project Nord Stream is essential for energy supplies to Germany and all of Europe, and for building up the security of those supplies.
Mr Chairman, we have always said that no one should be wary of the Nord Stream project, as it shall be a mere addition to available gas pipelines and shall by no means replace them. We fully realise that a gas exporting company would not put up with suspended payments and with its gas re-directed to other routes, putting it mildly. Any company would be interested in selling its commodities for current market prices, and everyone should realise that point.
I also want to stress that Russian policy concentrates on preventing damage to European clients through differences between business partners. Nord Stream is part of a trans-European gas supply system. I want to stress that all European Union countries have consented to its implementation, and all EU countries that approve the declared stance on this project should now take responsibility for it.
As for the environmental aspects of the project, Nord Stream has invested 100 million Euros in relevant research. Ecological research has never acquired such a large scale in the Baltic region before.
The organisations involved in the project-Gazprom, voucher-privatised companies, Germany's BASF and E.ON., and Dutch companies-have extremely responsible attitudes with regards to everything pertaining to project implementation. We are absolutely sure that the gas pipeline will open in October 2011 if everything involved fully complies with the law.