VYBORG, Russia, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- Europe can't position itself as a major global competitor without securing natural gas from Russia, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said.
Schroeder attended a ceremony to mark the start of the second string of the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea. The pipeline, which makes landfall in Germany, is part of an effort by Russian energy company Gazprom to diversify its gas export options to European consumers.
"If Europe wants to assert itself in global competition, this won't work without Russian gas in particular," Schroeder was quoted by German broadcaster Deutsche Welle as saying.
Schroeder serves as chairman for the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline consortium.
Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller described the Nord Stream pipeline as the new gas bridge to the European market.
A third and fourth string of the pipeline were referenced in feasibility studies launched by the project consortium.
"One of the strings might be intended for delivering Russian gas to the United Kingdom. And we see interest in this project on the part of our British partners," Miller said in a statement.
The European Union gets about 20 percent of its natural gas from Russia.