Denmark ‘deliberately attempting to delay’ Nord Stream 2 project

Pioneering Spirit 2, vessel installing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline; Image courtesy of Nord Stream 2 AG

Nord Stream 2 AG, operator of the Nord Stream 2 offshore gas pipeline, has submitted a third application for a route through Danish waters and accused Denmark of deliberately attempting to delay the project.

The third application for the pipeline route through Danish waters was submitted on Monday, April 15, more than two years after submitting the first.

The pipeline operator said that the third application, together with the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), covers a route in the Danish exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the waters south of Bornholm. This application and the EIA was submitted in accordance with the decision made by the Danish Energy Agency (DEA) on March 26, 2019.

The company added that the EEZ border between Poland and Denmark was previously disputed and the area was not available for any project developer. An agreement has been reached between the two countries but not yet been ratified by Poland.

 

Two applications with the DEA already pending

Namely, in January 2018, the amended Danish Continental Shelf Act entered into force with retroactive effect only for Nord Stream 2. The law gives the Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs the right to veto infrastructure projects running through territorial waters on political grounds.

Such a judgment from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has now been pending for 16 months with no response provided to Nord Stream 2 AG.

In August 2018, Nord Stream 2 was forced to apply for a second, alternative route outside Danish territorial waters, north-west of Bornholm through the Danish EEZ.

According to the company, both permitting processes have shown that all technical and environmental prerequisites are fulfilled, and a construction permit could be granted for either route.

In its statement, Nord Stream 2 AG said: “Asking for a third route option to be developed, despite two fully processed, ready-to-be-permitted applications on the table, can only be seen as a deliberate attempt to delay the project’s completion. […] Nord Stream 2 AG is now forced to submit this third application as a mitigation measure.


Three alternative routes for Nord Stream 2 pipeline through Danish EEZ; Image courtesy of Nord Stream 2 AG

‘Delays to increase gas price levels’

The company also stated that studies have shown that in the case of a delay of the project, lack of access to competitive gas supplies would increase price levels throughout Europe. According to Nord Stream 2, European families and industries will foot the bill of at least 20 million euros for every day of delay.

In accordance with the permits in four countries, work on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is ongoing in Russia, Finland, Sweden and Germany and has passed the 1,000-kilometer mark recently.

Nord Stream 2’s natural gas pipelines will have the capacity to transport 55 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Russian gas a year to the EU, for at least 50 years.

This is not the first time that the construction of the pipeline faced problems. Members of the European Parliament saw it as a threat to EU energy security as it would make it reliant on Russian gas and bypass Ukraine.

More recently, U.S. Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, criticized the European Commission for not putting more effort into ‘killing’ the Nord Stream 2 pipeline with Reuters stating that if there were any more delays, Moscow would have to negotiate with Ukraine over future gas transits.

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