The Russian-led consortium says it is optimistic that construction of its Baltic gas pipeline can begin in April now that it's secured a number of key permits in Germany, Finland and Russia.
European Union officials have called for more independence from Russian gas
Nord Stream said it received its first German construction permit from the Stralsund Mining Authority on Monday after three years of environmental and technical reviews.
The section covered by the permit is a small fraction of the project - only 50 kilometers of the pipeline's 1,223 kilometer-long pipeline, which will link the Russian city of Vyborg with Greifswald, Germany via Finnish, Swedish and Danish waters.
The German approval came just three days after Moscow concluded its environmental impact analysis and granted Nord Stream construction permits for the Russian segments of the pipeline.
"The granting of the Russian and German permits is a key milestone for this important European infrastructure project and keeps us firmly on schedule to start construction of the pipeline in April of next year," Nord Stream managing director Matthias Warnig said in a statement.
Warnid said Nord Stream expects the Hamburg-based Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency to approve the construction of a 31-kilometer section of the pipeline in Germany's Exclusive Economic Zone within the next few weeks. It also expects a second permit from Finland in the same period.
Economics Minister Rainer Bruederle has supported the Nord Stream project
The 7.4-billion-euro Nord Stream project is led by the Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom in cooperation with German partners E.ON Ruhrgas and BASF-Wintershall. It is expected to enter into service in 2011.
German Economics Minister Rainer Bruederle said the new line would increase the security of gas supply in Europe after a series of gas price disputes left European homes without heating in previous winters
While European Union leaders have advocated more independence from Russian gas, both Nord Stream and another Russian pipeline project, South Stream, have been gaining momentum.
Editor: Sam Edmonds