Schroeder takes controversial gas pipeline post
30 March 2006, MOSCOW - Ex-German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Thursday took a controversial post as chairman of the shareholders' committee of the operating company for the North European Gas Pipeline (NEGP), which will link Russian gas fields with Europe via the Baltic.
30 March 2006
MOSCOW - Ex-German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Thursday took a controversial post as chairman of the shareholders' committee of the operating company for the North European Gas Pipeline (NEGP), which will link Russian gas fields with Europe via the Baltic.
"I have no reason not to be pleased with this task," Schroeder told journalists in Moscow, saying that he will receive a representation allowance of 301,000 dollars a year (250,000 euros).
The former leader, who is a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin and was a driving force behind the project during his tenure, said he could not agree with criticism of his appointment and calls for his replacement.
"This criticism is unfounded. I have not been involved in decision-making in the venture," Schroeder told journalists, adding that the NEGP was being built by three separate companies.
The NEGP operating company is 51-per-cent controlled by Russia's state gas monopolist Gazprom, and by Germany's E.ON and BASF, which each hold a 24.5 per cent stake.
It has its headquarters in the Swiss town of Zug with a subsidiary office in Moscow.
German representatives on the board also include Ruhrgas CEO Burckhard Bergmann for E.ON, BASF deputy CEO Eggert Voscherau and the head of BASF subsidiary Wintershall, Reinier Zwitserloot. The Russian side is represented by Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller, his deputy Alexander Medvedev and Gazprom manager Vlada Russakova.
The NEGP is due to pump 27.5 billion cubic metres of gas a year to Germany from 2010, rising to 55 billion upon completion of a twin line. The line may also be extended to Scandinavia, Holland and Britain.
"It is extremely important to build this pipeline to meet rising (gas) needs in the West," Schroeder said.
Construction of the first section began in December by the town of Babayevo, east of St. Petersburg.
The 4.7-billion-dollar line will run a total of 3,000 kilometres when connected to existing lines from gas fields in western Siberia.
Bypassing traditional energy-transit countries like Belarus, Ukraine and Poland, the NEGP will run under the Baltic Sea from near Vyborg in Russia to the coast of Germany near Greifswald.
While adding an estimated 2.4 billion dollars to construction costs, the offshore route eliminates transit fees and risks of the supply being cut unilaterally amid disputes.
Subject: German news