MOSCOW, May 18 (UPI) -- Despite regional reservations, Russia's Gazprom said expanding a Baltic Sea gas pipeline would add another layer of reliability for European energy markets.
Gazprom said it gathered the relevant parties in Moscow to review developments of the planned second phase of the twin Nord Stream natural gas pipeline running through the Baltic Sea to Germany. The company said it's already ordered pipelines and reviewed the subsea route.
"The meeting participants stressed that the new gas pipeline would dramatically increase the reliability of energy supplies to Europe and strengthen the liquidity of gas hubs, thus facilitating the development of the European gas market," the company said in a statement.
Gazprom signed shareholder agreements on the development of the second phase of the twin Nord Stream pipeline system last year with its counterparts at German energy companies BASF and E.ON, as well as those from French company ENGIE, Austria's OMV and Royal Dutch Shell.
Under the proposed expansion, two more lines would be added to the existing network, roughly doubling the pipeline's net capacity.
The European Union has expressed concern about Russia's control over the regional market as the Russian gas company typically controls both the transit networks and the reserves they deliver. Maros Sefcovic, a European leader on energy issues, said the expansion would "alter the landscape" of the regional energy sector by blocking new sources and suppliers in Europe.
Gazprom nevertheless said it was calling for tenders to lay the sections of the planned pipeline in the deep waters of the Baltic Sea.
"The meeting participants expressed their confidence that the project would be successfully delivered and the gas pipeline would be commissioned before late 2019," Gazprom said.