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    Denmark Opens Debate on New Nord Stream 2 Route

Summary

The Russian-led pipeline project submitted the application for the new route in mid April.

by: Tim Gosling

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Denmark Opens Debate on New Nord Stream 2 Route

Denmark has opened the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report on the third Nord Stream 2 route through its waters for public consultation, the country’s energy regulator announced on May 15.

Danish authorities and organizations are invited to provide comments or raise their questions on the filed EIA report to the Danish Energy Agency (DEA) by July 10.

The last of the countries through whose territorial waters the Russian-led gas pipeline is planned to run, Denmark asked the project company to plan an alternative route on March 28. Reports at the time suggested Nord Stream 2 AG had made an internal warning that the request could delay the project, which would carry 55bn m3/yr of Russian gas directly to Germany, by “years”.

Still awaiting a decision on two previous applications for the controversial project, the Gazprom-led company submitted a third permit application and an EIA to the DEA on April 15.

At the same time, Nord Stream 2 says it appealed the DEA’s decision on April 17 “as we consider its request for a third permitting and consultation procedure disproportionate and illegal”. Meanwhile, the company has continued building the pipeline, and reports the route is half-completed, with 1,200km already completed on the twin lines.

The new route passes outside Danish territorial waters and stretches within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of Denmark to the south-east of Bornholm Island. Key to the request to consider this route was the imminent final settlement of a decades-old territorial dispute between Denmark and Poland. 

The first permit applied for by Nord Stream 2 in April 2017 is based on the existing Nord Stream 1 pipeline and crosses Danish territorial waters. The second application, applied for in August 2018, is an alternative route in Danish EEZ passing north-west of Bornholm. At that time, the company claims, the north-western route was the environmentally preferred route.

Nord Stream 2 faces stiff opposition from some quarters of the EU, with the likes of Poland insisting the project will increase dependence on Russian gas - particularly in central and eastern Europe - and therefore the Kremlin’s political leverage. It also threatens to help halt the transit of gas exports to the EU through Ukraine, cutting off vital revenue for Kyiv. However, Russia and German say the project is purely commercial, and is needed to ensure import volumes as European gas demand rises.

Seeking to boost its exports of LNG to Europe, the US has now taken up the role of Nord Stream 2’s main opponent. Washington has previously threatened sanctions against the European partners helping to finance the Gazprom-led project: Uniper, Engie, Shell, OMV, and Wintershall. A bill due to be introduced to the US senate threatens to sanction any company helping to lay the pipeline under the Baltic Sea.