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    Baltic Pipe work halts after Denmark withdraws permit


Rodent protection halts €1.6bn pipeline project, intended to wean Poland from Russian gas. [image credit: Energinet]

by: Joseph Murphy

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Natural Gas & LNG News, Europe, Top Stories, Political, Regulation, Infrastructure, Pipelines, News By Country, Denmark

Baltic Pipe work halts after Denmark withdraws permit

Denmark's environmental and food appeals board has repealed a construction permit for the Baltic Pipe, which will connect Poland's gas market with fields offshore Norway, over concerns about its impact on protected bat and mice species, Danish gas grid operator Energinet reported on June 3.

The contract was issued in July 2019, according to Energinet, which said it was "surprised" by the ruling by the appeals board.

"When we received the permit back in 2019 it was specified that we had to develop several remedial measures to secure good living conditions for the dormice, Nordic birch mice and bats, that live in some of the areas Baltic Pipe will pass through," Energinet's vice president of projects, Marian Kaagh, said in a statement. "Since then, we have been working on and implemented these measures, to protect the animals. The appeals board has ruled that all of these measures should have been described more thoroughly, before the permit was given."

The appeals board also determined that the measures were not enough to maintain the affected breeding and foraging areas, Energinet said. The operator said it was working with authorities to clarify what the ruling means for the 900-km Baltic Pipe, which at full capacity will flow 10bn m3/year of gas, helping Poland wean itself off Russian supplies.

"Energinet is at this moment preparing a plan for a temporary shutdown of construction activities until the required permit is in place," the company said.

The permit has been sent back to the Danish Environmental Protection Agency for revision. Gaz-System said in early May that construction had started on Baltic Pipe, which before the latest development was on track to start flowing gas in October 2022. Neither Energinet nor Gaz-System have said whether the repeal will affect when the pipeline comes online.

Denmark's slow permitting process delayed construction of Russia's Nord Stream 2 project. A construction permit was finally issued in late October 2019, leaving Gazprom with not enough time to complete the pipeline by the end of that year as planned. US sanctions were then imposed in late December that year, bringing construction to a standstill.