SPEAKING at the same time as his country was expressing concern
at the navigation of the iced areas of the Baltic by tankers trading
to Russian ports, Finland's foreign trade minister, Jari VilÚn,
has expressed strong support for Russia's development of Murmansk
port for oil exports.
At a presentation last week on the Arctic Operational
Platform Project (Arcop) which was launched jointly, late last year,
by the EU and Russia to develop the oil and gas transport of the
arctic regions in Russia. Arcop is planned to take three years and
is being led by Kvaerner Masa-Yards. The development of a Northern
Sea Route, which would require the use of Murmansk, is a cntral
Arcop objective. The project is intended to safeguard the interests
of both the EU and Finland, with an emphasis on environmental protection
using Finnish Arctic know-how.
Mr VilÚn, stressed that, "In the light of the recent
incidents" special attention must be paid to environmental safety.
He argued that the safety, and economy, of oil shipping can be enhanced
by right technology and route choices. The alternative routes from
Russia are pipelines from the production fields to Europe, shipping
across the Baltic Sea and direct shipments by sea along the Western
part of the North-East Passage. In addition, a new export and loading
port for crude oil has been planned for the Murmansk region. " The
Murmansk port project in particular should be advanced, because
the sea off the port remains open all year round and is therefore
safe," said Mr VilÚn.
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