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    Sweden Reluctantly Allows Nord Stream 2 in its Waters


All eyes are now on Denmark, which has amended its law precisely so that it may block NS 2.

by: William Powell

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NGW News Alert, Natural Gas & LNG News, Europe, Corporate, Import/Export, Political, Ministries, Regulation, Intergovernmental agreements, Baltic Focus, Infrastructure, Pipelines, Nord Stream Pipeline, Nord Stream 2

Sweden Reluctantly Allows Nord Stream 2 in its Waters

Sweden has granted permission for Swiss-based Nord Stream 2 – the wholly-owned subsidiary of Russian export monopoly Gazprom – to lay two pipelines along the seabed of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), claiming it was unable to act otherwise.

Welcoming the "important milestone" the same day, Nord Stream 2 said June 7 that preparatory works in the Swedish EEZ would begin in the coming months. "We are pleased to have obtained the Swedish government’s approval to construct and operate the Nord Stream 2," it said. 

The Swedish government said that "the starting point in international law is that all states are entitled to lay pipelines through the 'exclusive economic zone' of the coastal state. The government has now examined the application and notes, as Finland has recently done, that national and international law do not give the government scope to reject the application."

Enterprise and innovation minister Mikael Damberg underlined his country's hostility to the project, consent notwithstanding: "Sweden is critical to the Nord Stream 2 project as it risks contravening the goals of the EU's Energy Union and not complying with applicable EU legislation. Sweden, together with Denmark, has played a crucial role in raising the issue on the EU's agenda in order to shed light on the project's energy policy, legal and security aspects at the European level."

Denmark last year amended its law so that the government can refuse access on security grounds, and if it does so, the controversial Russian pipeline will have to take a circuitous route, adding to the cost and time.

The pipelines will be placed alongside the existing Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which received permission from the government in 2009 and was constructed between 2011 and 2012. The company plans to carry out the project during 2018 and 2019 and bring it into commercial operation at the beginning of 2020.

The Swedish government has worked into the permit a consultation condition so that Nord Stream "must, in good time before laying the pipelines, consult with owners of existing cables and pipelines on the continental shelf on technical aspects that arise where the pipelines cross each cable and pipeline. In addition to this, the company has made a number of commitments on precautionary measures and safety precautions that mainly target the sensitive environment of the Baltic Sea, shipping, maritime safety and fisheries."

Nord Stream's request to use Swedish ports for the storage of pipes during the construction phase has been agreed but with security enhancements by the Swedish armed forces and other relevant authorities in the Karlshamn area, the ministry said. In March 2017, the government appointed an inquiry with instructions to review the regulatory framework that aims to protect Sweden's total defence activities. The presence of the Swedish armed forces on Gotland has also been strengthened, including through the establishment of a new regiment.

During its examination of the application, the government consulted closely with Finland and Denmark. Finland has already granted its consent for the pipeline in the Finnish exclusive economic zone, while Denmark, with a starting point in domestic law, is conducting a special security policy examination since the proposed route passes through Danish territorial sea. Germany has granted permits and Russia is examining the permits issue and is likely to give approval last. It also gave June 7 approval for the construction, but another permit is outstanding.

Nord Stream 2 said it was now looking forward "to continuing the productive co-operation and open dialogue with the Swedish authorities during the up-coming construction phase.” Preparatory seabed intervention works, such as pre-lay rock berms and concrete mattresses for cable crossings, will start at specific sections along the 510-km section of the Swedish route in the coming months, while pipe laying in the Swedish EEZ is scheduled to start later this year.