The European Investment Bank (EIB) considers the project being implemented by NETRA GmbH Norddeutsche Erdgas Transversale und Co. KG, based in Emstek, to be of very considerable benefit for Europe. This was underscored by EIB Vice-President Wolfgang Roth on the occasion of the signature of a finance contract with the project promoter: "This project represents a further step in development of an interconnected Europe-wide gasline system, integrating the natural gas sectors in western, central and eastern Europe, to which the EIB has contributed in no small way in recent years through its financing both within the European Union and in the neighbouring regions".

The EIB is advancing a loan of DEM 170 million(1) to the joint venture, in which four European gas companies have a holding. NETRA is owned and operated by the German subsidiaries of Norway's two largest oil and gas companies, Den norske stats oljeselskap a.s. (Statoil) and Norsk Hydro ASA, together with the German gas companies Brigitta Erdgas und Erdöl GmbH, Hannover, and Ruhrgas AG, Essen.

The NETRA-Pipeline will serve to convey Norwegian natural gas from the point where it comes on land at Dornum on the North Sea coast as well as natural gas extracted in Germany to the new eastern Länder, specifically to Salzwedel in Sachsen-Anhalt. The gasline will contribute towards diversifying sources of natural gas supplies, thereby boosting the security of supply in eastern Germany and central and eastern Europe. The NETRA pipeline constitutes an important section of the trans-European energy networks (TENs), which are creating a high-capacity, cross-border gasline network for Europe.

Over the past decade, the European Investment Bank, the European Union's financing institution, has increased its lending in Germany more than ten-fold. Accounting for 14% of new loans, Germany has become the second largest borrower from the EIB, after Italy. Last year the EIB made available loans to promoters in Germany totalling some ECU 3 billion (nearly DEM 6 billion), of which virtually half went to borrowers in the new Länder.

(1) The conversion rates used by the EIB for statistical purposes during the current quarter are those obtaining on 30 March 1997, when ECU 1 = DEM 1.95, GBP 0.71, USD 1.16.