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North Stream 2 (Severny Potok) Natural Gas Pipeline at Kurgalsky Reserve, Russia


The Nord Stream Natural Gas Pipeline was launched in November 2011. Its business model is to provide gas transportation capacity for the natural gas coming from western Russia for distribution into the European gas grid, with landfalls in Russia and Germany. The extension of The Nord Stream Pipeline, North Stream 2 (Severny Potok) Natural Gas Pipeline aims to be stretching along the Baltic Sea bottom from the Russian to the German coast by alike route. Its launch is planned for the end of 2019. For the landfall in Russia for the new pipeline, The Narva Bay and the Kolganpa cape were chosen as alternative routes. The published non-technical annotation of the gas pipeline project states that based on the results of environmental surveys and evaluation of both routes, the option of the Narva Bay, which affects the Kurgalsky Nature Reserve was considered preferable. The company's arguments are simple: the Narva Bay option is shorter, more convenient and, apparently, cheaper.

The Kurgalsky Nature Reserve is an area of high conservation value for the Eastern Baltic Sea region. It is established in 2000, with a status of reserve (‘zakaznik’), and has of regional importance in Russia. It is included in the network of HELCOM Baltic Sea Marine Protected Areas and RAMSAR Convention list of protected wetlands of international importance. It is situated at the south-west coast of the Gulf of Finland, close to Estonian border. Its total area is 60 000 ha including 38 400 ha of marine area. Marine and coastal biotope complexes of the reserve are very diverse and undisturbed. Biotopes are represented by sandy and moraine coasts, dunes, reed beds, reefs, coastal meadows, islets, surface boulder ridges, mudflats, underwater and surface sandbanks, with or without vegetation. Shallow areas of marine part of the Kurgalsky Nature Reserve serve as a spawning ground for many commercial fish species, as well as a habitat for several fish and lamprey species, endangered in the Baltic Sea region. The Kurgalsky Nature Reserve is an important breeding area for many species of marine birds and stopover for migrating birds, including those listed in the HELCOM’s Red List of Baltic Breeding Birds. The Reserve is the key area for the Baltic ringed seal haul-outs in the Gulf of Finland. It is also breeding and foraging area for ringed seal and important area for the Baltic grey seal haul-outs.

The construction of the North Stream 2 Natural Gas Pipeline at the Kurgalsky Nature Reserve means the destruction of all living things in a strip of land 85 meters wide and about 3.7 kilometres long. Here, the trees will be felled and the soil removed, all in order to lay two pipes and to build a road. The pipeline will pass through an old-growth forest and a unique relict dune.

Scientists have found a large number of rare and endangered species of animals and plants listed in the Red Books of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Russia and the Leningrad Region on the proposed route of the gas pipeline. To exemplify, a nest of a white-tailed eagle - a rare bird of prey for the North-West of Russia - was discovered last year very close to the strip allocated for the construction. The nest is located only fifty meters away from the center of the route marked by pegs and benchmarks. That means that even if the nest will not be physically destroyed, these sensitive birds will abandon it. The construction of the gas pipeline can also affect the key habitats of rare marine mammals: the gray seal and the Baltic Ringed seal. North Stream 2 Natural Gas Pipeline will irreversibly destroy the habitat of rare animals and plants, which is directly prohibited by Russian laws "On Environmental Protection" and "On Wildlife." In addition, this is contrary to the requirements of the Ramsar Convention. The construction of the gas pipeline is also prohibited by the regime of protection of the Kurgalsky reserve. Hence, laying the pipeline will also violate the law "On Specially Protected Natural Territories”.

The decision to choose Narva Bay affecting Kurgalsky Nature Reserve as the main route of the The North Stream 2 Natural Gas Pipeline is proposed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Russian Federation. This violates the requirements of Russian legislation on Nature Protected Areas (NPAs). NPAs provisions prohibit any construction within territory of the refuge. Moreover, this decision does not take into account the view point by wide range of Russian stakeholders. As in March 2017, representatives of a dozen of various environmental and scientific organizations expressed their explicit and unanimous view against the pipe-laying across the Kurgalsky natural reserve. Furthermore, is another interesting fact illustrates how double standards are applied in the implementation of the project. In Russia, the main method of constructing a 3.7 km long pipeline section is the usual digging of trenches. In Germany, on the other hand, the laying of the on-shore pipeline will require the construction of a two-pass microtunnel. Thus, in Russia, the trench will cut through the unique reserve while in Germany the gas pipeline will be laid underground, without affecting the natural landscape. Such a difference between these two approaches can probably be explained by the fact that the German authorities have imposed harsh environmental conditions. Russia authorities, however, have not done so.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:North Stream 2 (Severny Potok) Natural Gas Pipeline at Kurgalsky Reserve, Russia
Country:Russian Federation
State or province:Leningrad Oblast
Location of conflict:Kurgalsky Natural Reserve, Kingiseppsky District
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Wetlands and coastal zone management
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific commodities:Natural Gas
Biological resources
Ecosystem Services

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The Nord Stream Natural Gas Pipeline was launched in November 2011. The Nord Stream twin pipeline system through the Baltic Sea runs from Vyborg, Russia to Lubmin near Greifswald, Germany. The pipelines were built and are operated by Nord Stream AG. The Nord Stream route crosses the Exclusive Economic Zones of Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany, as well as the territorial waters of Russia, Denmark, and Germany. The two 1,224-kilometre offshore pipelines are the most direct connection between the gas reserves in Russia and energy markets in the European Union. Combined, the twin pipelines have the capacity to transport a combined total of 55 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas a year to businesses and households in the EU for at least 50 years.

In June 2015, an agreement to build two additional lines was signed between Gazprom, Royal Dutch Shell, E.ON, OMV, and Engie. As the creation of a joint venture was blocked by Poland, on 24 April 2017, Uniper, Wintershall, Engie, OMV and Royal Dutch Shell signed a financing agreement with Nord Stream 2 AG, a subsidiary of Gazprom responsible for the development of the Nord Stream 2 project. According to the agreement, each of five companies will provide €950 million, of which €285 million should have been paid in 2017. The loan from the five companies will cover 50% of the project costs of €9.5 billion. The rest would be financed by Gazprom which remains the sole shareholder of Nord Stream 2 AG. Although the pipeline has received no formal approvals from Denmark and Finland, it is scheduled to become operational in 2019–2020. The new line is planned to double the system’s capacity to 110 billion cubic meters.

The route of additional lines would mainly follow the route of existing lines, except in the Russian onshore and offshore sections. In Russia, 866 kilometres (538 mi) of new pipeline and three compressor stations would be built, and five existing compressor stations would be expanded for feeding Nord Stream 2. Nord Stream 2 will start at the Slavyanskaya compressor station near Ust-Luga port, located 2.8 kilometres (1.7 mi) south-east of the village of Bolshoye Kuzyomkino (Narvusi) in the Kingiseppsky District of the Leningrad Oblast, in the historical Ingria close to the Estonian border. Its landfall would be at the Kurgalsky Peninsula on the shore of Narva Bay.

Project area:60,000
Level of Investment for the conflictive project11,000,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:small communities (population unknown)
Start of the conflict:06/2015
Company names or state enterprises:OMV (OMV) from Austria - Financial Investor
Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) from Netherlands
Uniper (Uniper) from Germany
Wintershall Holding GmbH (Wintershall) from Germany - Financial Investor
Engie (ENGIE) from France
Nord Stream 2 AG (Nord Stream 2) from Switzerland - Project company
Gazprom (Gazprom) from Russian Federation - Parent Company
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Russian Federation
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Greenpeace
Green World
Coalition Green Baltic
Uusimaa Regional Environment Centre
Monitoring BTS
International Union for Conservation of Nature
Green World
Friends of the Baltic
Baltic Fund for Nature

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Other Environmental impactsEnormous impact on wildlife, if built. Impact on Ramsar area.
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Application of existing regulations
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Proposal and development of alternatives:- Coalition Green Baltic requires that EIA on Nord Stream 2 Project addresses holistic and cumulative impacts on the Baltic Sea ecosystem
- While the project consortium aims to route the link through the Finnish economic zone of the Baltic Sea, environmentalists have been campaigning for it to consider the more southern route, saying the sea bed is flatter and would need less work and therefore less disruption to waste littered on the sea bed. The Environmental Ministery of Finland also insists that the consortium conducts a thorough environmental impact study of an alternative, southern route for its planned gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Construction of theproject continues.

Sources & Materials

Project Website


Russian ecologists say Nord Stream 2 damages precious refuge

Finland tells Nord Stream to study alternative routes

Russian gas in the EU: How consumers threaten an international nature reserve

Nord Stream 2 and Environmental NGOs Discuss Route Selection in Russia

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Call Letter of Coalition Green Baltic for participation to Greenpeace Petition

Greenpeace Petition: Save the Kurgalsky Reserve

Gazprom wants to build a gas pipeline through a unique nature reserve

by Irina Kozlovskikh .5 December 2017

Other comments:

Meta information

Contributor:Ayşe Ceren Sarı, Boğaziçi University, [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:3335



Project Map from Greenpeace Russland


Save the Kurgalsky Reserve - Greenpeace Petition Banner