Gazprom received permission from Sweden to lay the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline in the exclusive economic zone of the country in the Baltic Sea. The Swedish section of the gas pipeline is the longest, and now the project has permits for laying already from the three EU countries and potentially from Russia, covering almost 89% of the route. The only country that has not yet given permission to lay the pipe is Denmark, which can drag out the process indefinitely.
The Nord Stream 2 project Nord Stream 2 AG (controlled by Gazprom) received permission from the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Innovation of Sweden to lay a gas pipeline in the exclusive economic zone of the country in the Baltic Sea. On the same day, June 7, the company received permission from the Ministry of Construction of the Russian Federation to build a land section of a pipe in the Leningrad Region. For the construction of a gas pipeline in the territorial waters of the Russian Federation, the project still needs permission from Rosprirodnadzor, which is expected "in the near future."
Thus, the de facto project received permits from Russia, as well as Germany, Finland and Sweden - together they cover 1,078 km of 1,226 km of the total length of the pipe, or 88.6%. There remains only a site near the Danish island of Bornholm, including 53 km in the exclusive economic zone and 83 km in the territorial waters of Denmark. According to the law of the sea, the economic zone refers to international waters, while the laws of the respective state are fully applicable to territorial waters. The problem is that the Danish government has repeatedly criticized the "Northern Stream-2" and last year the country's parliament adopted amendments to the legislation that allow prohibiting the construction of pipelines in territorial waters, not only for environmental reasons, but also for reasons of national security. At the moment, it is unclear whether Nord Stream 2 will be able to obtain permission from Copenhagen - the request is under consideration, the terms of which have not been determined.
In case Denmark prohibits work in its waters, Nord Stream 2 AG has a plan to lay a pipe in the exclusive economic zone of the country - bypassing Bornholm from the north. Copenhagen's permission will still be required, but the authorities in this case will not have a formal reason for refusal. As noted by the interlocutors of Kommersant in the industry, the problem is that the Danes theoretically can drag out time without making any decision that could jeopardize the project implementation schedule. The commissioning of the Nord Stream-2 pipeline is still scheduled for the end of 2019. On the other hand, the interlocutors of Kommersant expect that in this situation Denmark will not take responsibility alone to block such a project. "We do not consider it fair if such a small country as Denmark will solve such a big issue like this one," said Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen in September 2017.
"It's not very good for Denmark to be in a situation where this country has not taken a decision on the project," says Maria Belova from Vygon Consulting. "But they have changed the legislation and now they can say that the project evaluation from the security point of view requires more time." In her opinion, the authorities of Denmark can take the time to not lose face, and can also expect to receive some advantages for themselves during the intra-European discussions on the project. "The loss of time is the main threat, because even if Gazprom at some point decides to abandon the pipeline through the territorial waters of Denmark and will file a new petition for laying in the economic zone, it will be necessary to wait again for Copenhagen's decision," concludes Ms. Belova.