Robert Harneis –TDO- (FRANCE) The Danish government is threatening to block the building of the 1200km pipeline Nord stream 2, under the Baltic from Russia to Germany.
The Russian pipeline company has applied to the Danish Energy Agency for a permit to build the pipeline alongside the original Nord Stream 1 in Danish waters.
Bearing in mind that Denmark agreed to the first pipeline there is little justification for stopping the second. However, Denmark has close links with NATO and the parliament is discussing a bill that could give the government power to stop the new pipeline passing through their waters.
The motive is purely political. The new pipeline is expected to remove the power of the Ukrainian government to interfere with Russian gas supplies to Europe and will take away valuable revenue for transit fees.
There is little doubt that the Danish obstruction is inspired by the United State, who supports the Ukrainian government against Russia and the breakaway republics in the Donbass. The United States is also hoping to import Liquid Petroleum Gas via to the EU via Poland despite it being much more expensive than Russian gas.
The European Union is divided on the issue with Germany in particular pushing for the project to go ahead. The Baltic States and Poland are hostile. European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said on Wednesday, the EU has no legal means to stop the pipeline that will deliver natural gas from Russia to Germany. The European Commission is also embarrassed by the fact that it contributed to the financing of Nord Stream 1.
A spokesman for Nord stream 2 said that ‘We are now following the debate in the parliament. Although we do not know how it will end, any project manager would consider alternatives in such a situation. We are evaluating continuously,’
The company’s technical director Sergey Serdjukov said this week they are ready to re-route the pipeline, avoiding Danish territorial waters if Copenhagen blocks construction plans. According to Serdjukov, ‘everything has been already prepared, and it won’t be very difficult.’ He added ‘The distance does not matter. Who cares about a couple of extra kilometers on a 1,200-kilometer long pipeline?’
The pipeline under the Baltic Sea arrives on the German coast near Greifswald, where it will be connected to the European gas transport networks.
The new pipeline will be operational by the end of 2019, according to Gazprom CEO Aleksey Miller. In reality more likely in early 2020. It is expected to double the capacity of the existing Nord Stream pipeline, which opened in 2010.
In 2015, Gazprom signed a memorandum of intent to cooperate on the new gas pipeline with Germany’s E.ON, Royal Dutch Shell and OMV of Austria. Since then the United States has threatened possible sanctions against anyone financing the project. The German government has reacted strongly against this threat. There is a long history of United States opposition to European nations buying first Soviet and then Russian gas.
Critics claim the Gazprom-led project will make Europe more dependent on Russian gas. Proponents argue the gas is needed and it will bring gas prices in Europe down. Russia has said that it aims to stop using Ukraine as a transit country by 2019.