EU Bank Currently Unable to Fund Disputed Baltic Sea Gas Pipe | Europe | News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 08.02.2007

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EU Bank Currently Unable to Fund Disputed Baltic Sea Gas Pipe

The European Investment Bank on Thursday said that quarrels between European Union member states were blocking a funding of a disputed Russian-German natural gas pipeline.

An emergency stock of large gas pipes

Poland is leading the campaign against the Baltic Sea natural gas pipeline

Several EU member states were opposed to funding the project, said EIB Vice-President Matthias Kollatz-Ahnen.

So far, the EU bank had not received an official application for financing and was not holding talks with the developers of the project, Kollatz-Ahnen told reporters after the bank presented its annual report on Thursday.

Poland is leading the campaign against the project, developed by Russian energy giant's Gazprom subsidiary Nord Stream, as the country fears Russia could keep it from receiving gas.

The pipeline would deliver gas directly to Germany, bypassing the former Soviet Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as well as Poland and Belarus.

Environmental impact

Strollers walkinh anlong a Baltic Sea beach in Germany

The EIB wants to examine the proposed pipeline's environmental impact

Kollatz-Ahnen said that the size of the project would fit into the EIB's range of activities, but that the bank would have to assess the pipeline's environmental impact. This could show that it would be better for the environment to build the pipeline above ground, Kollatz-Ahnen said.

The EIB's comment came just a day after Germany's former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder -- now head of the supervisory board of the Russian-German consortium in charge of building the undersea pipeline -- promoted the controversial project in Brussels.

Schröder said the Baltic Sea pipe would bolster EU energy security without damaging the environment.

Gazprom plans to seek EIB funding to help meet the costs of the 12 billion euro ($15.6 billion) scheme.

EIB invests in massive projects

Gerhard Schröder at the Gazprom headquarters

Gerhard Schröder is chairman of the consortium building the disputed pipeline

The planned pipeline is to ship 27.5 billion cubic meters of the fuel annually from Russia's Arctic Shkotman deposit to Germany.

The EIB also called for talks with banks in China, warning that Chinese loans to African countries could undermine European efforts to improve governance standards in African states and could put the poor continent in excessive debt.

In 2006, the EIB lent a total of 45.8 billion euros for projects mainly in the area of infrastructure and research and development.

While the overall spending is likely to stay the same this year, the EIB said it plans to drive up lending on energy projects by 1 billion euros to 4 billion euros in 2007. Up to 800 million euros would go into renewable energy projects.

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