Germany has given a green light to the construction of the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea, the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency said Tuesday.
The decision means all legal hurdles to building a 31-kilometer (20 mile) section of the pipeline in Germany's exclusive economic zone have been cleared. In January, authorities approved construction of a gas pipeline segment in German territorial waters.
"We are pleased that all necessary permits are now in place for the German route section," said Jens Lange, permits manager Germany at Nord Stream 2, a subsidiary of Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom.
The 1,200 kilometer Nord Stream 2 is expected to bring Russian natural gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea. Nord Stream 1 has been in service since 2011.
Construction on the German section of Nord Stream 2 is to begin this spring.
Opposition to pipeline
Russia, Finland, Sweden and Denmark still need to approve the pipeline. Nord Stream 2 said it expected the permits to be given later this year.
The EU's eastern European members and Baltic states have tussled with Germany over the pipeline due to concerns it will increase Russia's stranglehold over the EU energy market and cut Ukraine off from gas transit fees.
The United States has voiced similar concerns that the Nord Stream project backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin is as much a political tool as an economic one.
Germany, the largest consumer of Russian gas in Europe, views the pipeline as an economic issue financed by five Western firms and has dismissed geo-political objections.
cw/jm (dpa, Reuters)