Pro Karelia ry
NORD STREAM SUPERVISION THREATENS FINLAND’S SOVEREIGNTY
- Supervision of the gas pipeline is a security threat
- Nord Stream AG is a Swiss logistic corporation
- Gazprom owns the gas circulating in the pipes
- The project is politically risky for Finland
- Political security related effects remain unsettled
- Supervision may lead to a situation being contrary to the Constitution
- Has Finland prepared itself for security threats?
- UN Law of the Sea defines the principles
- The pipe circulating in Karelia passes under the Saimaa Canal
- Sea claim intercepts the pipe route
- Municipal court has forbidden clearing of mines on the claim area
- Nord Stream project is incomplete
Nord Stream AG is a Swiss logistic corporation
Nord Stream AG is an international consortium which has been established 02.12.2005 in Zug, Swit-zerland, outside of the European Union. The group has a branch office in Moscow. The main stake-holder is a Russian energy giant Gazprom [51 %]. BASF SE/Wintershall Holding AG and E.ON Ruhrgas own 20 % each. Gasunie has 9 % of the shares [www.nord-stream.com].
The original meaning of Nord Stream was to build a gas pipe line from Shtokman’s gas fields to Germany. This year the gas fields in Siberia were announced as being the principal gas source. From the Finnish viewpoint the most important transportation ways are the pipelines passing underneath of the Saimaa Canal in the Karelian Isthmus, and about 1,220 km long sea pipes from Vyborg to Greifswald [the goal is to build two pipes]. 375 km of the pipeline is located within the Finnish economic zone.
The goal is to finally take 55 bcm of gas each year for 26 million European households. The pipeline is standing out regarding the aspects touching Europe’s energy supply and energy dependence.
Image source: Nord Stream
Gazprom owns the gas circulating in the pipes
Nord Stream is a logistic pipeline company. The gas passing in the pipes is owned by Gazprom. The Russian government indirectly but finally assesses all the matters related to the gas supply. The administration also assesses the gas pipelines based under Gazprom’s majority in shares. So we may say that the real headquarters are located in Kremlin.
The western partners give an image to the Nord Stream project and finance it significantly. The total investment is 7.4 – 12 billion euro. The financing of the project is still open because of Russia’s weak economic position and lack of confidence.
It is also a significant problem that the gas pipeline is a personal issue for the highest level of the Russian federation, and for those oligarks who were accepted to participate. Corruption which is part of every action in Russia is now bigger than ever before.
According to Anatoli Chubais and Igor Gaidar a gas shortage threatens Russia so that the biggest metropolises could possibly partly be evacuated already in 2010. How may the safety and the sufficient passage of the gas be secured in such conditions? Possibly the current management crisis in Russia will also show as a big problem if/when Russia faces with turbulent times.
According to some international energy sources there will be a gas overproduction which means that Nord Stream will have problems in selling their gas. Who will then carry the economic risk?
UN Law of the Sea defines the principles
The gas pipeline will run on the Finnish economic zone which is partly defined as an international sea area. The principles relating to construction of the pipeline can be found on the Article 56 of the UN Law of the Sea. It defines the coastal countries (f. ex. Finland) and their economic zones wide rights, law enforcement powers and responsibilities.
The law enforcement powers relate to f. ex. artificial islands, equipments, research, conservation of the environment and other rights. According to the Article 79, 4th paragraph Finland has full right to set conditions for the cables and pipelines mounted on the area.
Supervision of the gas pipeline is a security threat
IF: In 2013 a Russian navy war ship, submarine and fighter plane, and an armed Gazprom supervision ship in the Baltic Ocean noticed that a yacht coming from the direction of Finnish coasts dropped something in the sea nearby the sea gas pipeline.
Shall the boater be arrested by armed forces or shot straight away? Will he/she be taken to Russia for interrogations? Will Russia denounce Finland as guilty of an infringement? Will Russia send a threatening warrant to Finland? Will Russia claim for strongholds on the coast of Finland afterwards? What will a small Finnish coastguard ship do in front of Russian war ships?
This exaggerated example tells us in which direction the Nord Stream gas pipeline decisions will take us: insecurity, unpredictability, inflammable international and political situations.
The project is politically risky for Finland
The Finnish government regards the gas pipeline only as an environmental issue. It refuses to see the security issues and national defense issues related to the pipelines supervision. According to Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen’s promise the gas pipeline decision was made at the beginning of November within the government. The environmental permission will be decided by Länsi-Uudenmaan ympäristölupakeskus.
President Tarja Halonen has acknowledged the gas pipeline project without critic. She does not want to see any other variables than environmental factors of the pipeline.
The pipeline is lobbied to the Finnish political elite by the former Prime Minister and party leader Paavo Lipponen. The chairman of the Shareholder Committee is Gerhard Schröder, former Chancellor of Germany.
It has not been clarified from the environmental viewpoints how the construction of the pipe will affect the sediment layers. There are districts on the pipeline that have the second biggest radiation in Europe after Tsernobyl. How shall the clearance of the bottom impact to the outbreak of the radiation? On the pipelines route there are sank gifts, ships and other environmentally polluting material.
Political security related effects remain unsettled
The political security effects of the pipelines supervision originated from President Vladimir Putin’s statement in 2006, according to which the supervision of the gas pipeline is the most important duty of the Northern Army of Russian Federation. He has repeated this message also later.
Finnish Prime Minister has nullified Putin’s word by advising that the Finnish government will see this matter only as an environmental issue. Finland will grant the permission for the pipeline regardless of other political visions, without demand of any Russian “equivalent”. Russia has promised as an “equivalent” to take the Baltic Sea as a Russia’s inland sea which will be supervised by different war ships.
The supervision of the pipeline will head to a strong Russian armed presence only 10 – 15 minutes from Finland’s capital and coast lines. The supervision ships under construction are landing crafts by their nature. The Finnish defense listening system will partly be destroyed and Russian systems will replace it. No shared supervision is envisaged.
Supervision may lead to a situation being contrary to the Constitution
The Nord Stream pipeline will carry gas in the Finnish economic zone and Finnish law enforcement area. The duty of the Finnish navy and border guards is to supervise and defend Finnish sea territories.
Neglecting pipeline’s security threat will create a situation in which Russia’s future supervision will end up to a non-constitutional position. Property of a company settled outside of Finland and European Union will be supervised on the Finnish economic zone and law-enforcement area by the army of a country outside of the European Union.
We will hand over 375 km of our border supervision to be taken care by a foreign state, without constitutional decisions. Will the Finnish parliament only look when the government hands over part of the Finnish sovereignty to a foreign government by doing nothing?
Has Finland prepared itself for security threats?
The Officials of Finland want to forget the security issues. Pro Karelia ry told of these issues already in 15.11.2006 and after that in 20 articles. But there has been an accelerated discussion only about 1.5 months. The Baltic countries, Sweden and Poland are very concerned of their safety. Even Germany’s defense minister has noticed this matter.
The citizens do not know if Finland has anyhow prepared to the change of the security status, because all official speeches are nullifying the security threat. There has been no discussion of the con-stitutional problem caused by the pipeline supervision.
There has been very little discussion also of the economic, cultural and travelling questions. Finland is only a payer for the pipeline; it will have no incomes after a short time workplace, only expenses.
The pipe circulating in Karelia passes under the Saimaa Canal
Interesting details are related to the gas pipeline. The pipeline will run through Finnish owned property in the Karelian Isthmus. The company has not negotiated with the Finns. According to the Paris Peace Treaty only the border was relocated, the property ownership was not transferred, but it became latent.
The gas pipeline has been aligned to pass under the Saimaa Canal which Finland has hired in 1962. The canal has on average 30 meter wide shore area and for some water structural engineer equipments there is a 200 meter wide area. The Finnish government has not told if this matter has been negotiated with Russians or not.
Recovery of 16th century cannon from the Danish-Lübeckish fleet. Photo: Nord Stream AG
Sea claim intercepts the pipe route
The most interesting special issue on the Baltic Sea is a submarine sea claim. Erkki Sederqvist has made a mine claim according to the Finnish mining law. The mine claim pads alongside 25th longitude from Helsinki to south to the sea border of Finland and Estonia as a 50 meter wide zone.
The mining claim has been made in August 2008. Nord Stream’s application has been made in 2009. The mining claim has thus the priority and it is possible that the claim impeades the construction of the gas pipeline on the mining claim zone.
The Finnish government has rejected the sea claim on September 2009. The attorney of the mine squatter, barrister Kari Silvennoinen has told that the squatter will appeal of the decision. The appeal delays the use of the mining area. F. ex. one year delay for not benefitting the gas pipeline means 4 – 5 billion euro loss in the turnover and 100 – 200 million interest loss.
Municipal court has forbidden clearing of mines on the claim area
The government has granted Nord Stream a permit to blow up mines alongside pipeline area. The sea squatter has as a plaintiff asked the Helsinki municipal court to grant a mine blowing denial as a security action on the mine claim area. The court gave this denial 08.10.2009.
The denial was justified because of squatter’s obvious right on the claim area. Helsinki Dept Recovery Office placed a 100 000 euro penalty payment to support the decision of the municipal court. The court thus confirms the squatter’s right according to the mining law on the claim area.
As a part of the sea claim a representative of the Russian administration asked on which conditions the sea squatter would abandon his rights. According to the squatter’s attorney, if Russia will make a negotiation initiative for the return of Karelia, the squatter will withdraw the sea claim.
The Russian representative distributed the knowledge of this negotiation contact and answer very quickly and widely to the Russian media. We can guess that it was a Russian effort to denigrate somehow the sea squatter. Nord Stream Company tells that they are by no means participating to this matter. The Russian negotiation contact very quickly dried up undefined.
Nord Stream project is incomplete
Nord Stream project has several open matters. The financing of the pipeline is not completely clear. The delaying effects caused by the sea claim are not clear. It is not known how the gas supply has been confirmed.
The real environmental effects are not yet clear to Finland. The safety aspects are completely open. The economic covenant for Finland is unclear. The cultural losses are not yet known.
Hardly anyone is disclaiming the necessity of the gas pipeline, so the project in itself is supportable.
But there are many uncertainties relating to the Nord Stream gas pipeline that shall be solved first and before the Finnish government gives out any permission to the project. The most sensible win-win alternative that shall inspire trust is a terrestrial pipe.
By: MA (Econ.) Veikko Saksi / Rotary International Helsinki / 09.11.2009
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