Hopes to build a new underwater gas pipeline to Europe from Russia via the Baltic Sea, and some European countries’ desire to get it, might be sinking. Denmark has been holding out on issuing a permit for the construction of the portion of Nord Stream 2, as the pipeline is called, that passes through the Danish exclusive economic zone.
Dmitry Handog, deputy head of Gazprom’s Department of Foreign Economic Activity, expressed his concerns about a possible delay in the implementation of the pipeline being built by the Russian gas company Gazprom, amid the Danish Energy Agency’s request for a third route through Danish waters.
“Thus, there are now three applications for consideration by the Danish authorities along the route of laying the pipeline: in territorial waters and the Danish exclusive economic zone,” Novorosinform quoted Handog as saying on April 30.
Nord Stream 2 was expected to be built to completion by the end of this year, but the delays caused by Denmark is putting the schedule in jeopardy. Nord Stream 2 AG, a subsidiary of Gazprom that acts as operator, has all the permits it needs to build the twin lines across the Baltic Sea – crossing waters claimed by Russia, Finland, Sweden and Germany - except that for Denmark. Three applications for the permit have been sent to the Danish regulators, however, no reply has been received.
Complicating matters for energy-hungry Europe is that Russia's transit contract with Ukraine expires at the end of this year, meaning Europeans could face an energy importation deficit.
On March 26, the Danish authorities requested that Nord Stream 2 AG look into a new route option that would bypass Denmark’s waters altogether, which led the company to accuse Denmark of deliberately trying to delay the project’s completion.
“As a responsible project developer and in order to protect its interests, Nord Stream 2 filed an appeal, but also submitted the required new application for laying a permit on the route southeast of Bornholm on April 15,” the statement reads, referring to a Danish island that lies in the middle of the Baltic Sea just south of Sweden and north of Poland.
The 1,200 km (746 mi) undersea Nord Stream 2 pipeline is designed to deliver 55 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas to Europe through two lines laid parallel to one another, as an alternative to the Soviet-era overland route that passes through Ukraine. The $11 billion project is backed by five European companies, namely Austria’s OMV, the Anglo-Dutch company Shell, France’s Engie and Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall.
Nord Stream 2 has been lobbied against in European capitals by officials from the United States, who maintain that Europe is only more beholden to Russian interests and energy dominance by importing Russian gas and bypassing a Ukraine – a European ally – in the process.