BERLIN - The leaders of Germany and Russia will inaugurate the controversial Nord Stream pipeline pumping Russian gas to Western Europe Tuesday, highlighting its strategic importance to both sides.
Angela Merkel and Dmitry Medvedev will headline a guest list including the prime ministers of France and the Netherlands, Francois Fillon and Mark Rutte, and EU energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger to mark the first of controversial gas links under the Baltic Sea.
The ceremony in the northeastern German town of Lubmin will celebrate the arrival of the first Russian gas through the 1,224-kilometre-long (761 miles) pipeline into the European grid.
Once operational in late 2012, it will transport 55 billion cubic metres (1.9 trillion cubic feet) of gas a year to the EU for at least half a century, enough to supply around 26 million homes, Nord Stream says.
The consortium for the 7.4-billion-euro ($10.2 billion) project is a joint venture between the Russian state-held gas giant Gazprom, German firms BASF and EON, Dutch company Gasunie and GDF Suez of France.
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