By Leila Nezirevic
LONDON (AA) - The Baltic Pipe natural gas pipeline was officially opened Tuesday at a ceremony in Szczecin, Poland.
Polish, Norwegian and Danish leaders attended the ceremony for the launch of the gas transmission system, which they hope will end Poland and Europe's dependency on Russian gas.
Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy Terje Aasland said it was "an important step on the important road to Europe's independence from Russian energy," the government stated.
He went further, praising Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki for starting the project years ago, "long before most people realized the importance of European energy independence."
The project was initiated by Poland in 2016 following the Crimean War, long before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February this year, which triggered an energy crisis.
The approximately 900-kilometer (559-mile) pipeline will transport natural gas from Norway via Denmark and through the Baltic Sea to Poland.
With an annual capacity of 10 billion cubic meters of gas, the pipeline "can bring gas from the fields on the Norwegian continental shelf and contribute to strengthening energy security in southern Scandinavia, Poland and other countries in the region," Aasland said.
The minister accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of using energy as a weapon "in an attempt to destabilize Europe and break our unity," the statement said.
The opening of the Baltic Pipe came after Danish and Swedish authorities identified several gas leaks in the Russian-owned Nord Stream pipelines.
This prompted fears of sabotage as the two Nordic countries have now confirmed that the leakage was due to heavy underwater explosions.