Nord Stream 2 pipeline to bypass Danish territorial waters?

Gazprom’s subsidiary Nord Stream 2 AG has handed in an alternative route option for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to the Danish Authorities, as Denmark remains the only country yet to give its approval for the gas pipeline construction.

Pipes are loaded onto a vessel in the northern German port of Mukran for transshipment to a storage yard. / © Nord Stream 2 – Axel Schmidt

Nord Stream 2 AG, a developer of the pipeline designed to supply Russian natural gas to the EU market through the Baltic Seasaid last Friday that the alternative route, submitted to the Danish Energy Agency, did not pass through Danish territorial waters.

The company added that it was not withdrawing from the ongoing procedure for the preferred route as applied for in April 2017 which was based on the guidance received from Danish authorities during the successful planning and construction of the existing Nord Stream pipeline.

“The amendment of the Continental Shelf Act (January 1, 2018) provides the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs the right to recommend, based on wide-ranging considerations, whether an application for infrastructure projects, such as gas transmission pipelines traversing territorial waters shall or shall not be further handled by the Danish Energy Agency.

The recommendation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been pending since January 2018. Therefore, Nord Stream 2 AG decided to explore alternative routes outside of Danish territorial waters

“The recommendation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been pending since January 2018. Therefore, Nord Stream 2 AG decided to explore alternative routes outside of Danish territorial waters,” the company said.

Based on the survey works, engineering and environmental assessments carried out in the last months, a viable route has been identified.

This 175 kilometer-long alternative, passing north-west of Bornholm, crosses the Danish EEZ only.

Nord Stream 2 AG said that the application would not substitute the current application which was filed in April 2017, but the company maintains that the first application provides the optimal route for the pipelines in Danish waters and will remain the preferred route.

As the Nord Stream 2 pipeline passes through the territorial waters and/or the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany, the permits to construct and operate the pipeline must be obtained from each of these five countries.

So far, Nord Stream 2 has received the national permits for all the other national jurisdictions – except from Denmark – through which the pipelines pass between Russia and Germany.

Proposed Nord Stream 2 pipeline route

The pipeline involves two parallel 48 inch lines, roughly 1,200 km, each starting from south-west of St Petersburg and ending at German coast, Greifswald.

Nord Stream 2’s natural gas pipelines will have the capacity to transport 55 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Russian gas a year to the EU, for at least 50 years.

The project has been seen by some as a threat to the EU energy security, making the union vulnerable to reliance on Russian gas. To alleviate similar concerns, the EU has been working on increasing imports of LNG from the U.S.

EU diversifying supply

In a statement last week the European Commission said that since the arrival of the first U.S. LNG carrier in the Portuguese port of Sines April 2016 and today, EU imports of liquefied natural gas from the U.S. have increased from zero to 2.8 billion cubic meters.

In their Joint Statement of July 25, in Washington D.C., European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to strengthen EU-U.S. strategic cooperation with respect to energy.

“In this context, the European Union would import more liquefied natural gas from the United States to diversify and render its energy supply more secure. The EU and the U.S. will, therefore, work to facilitate trade in liquefied natural gas,” the European Commission’s statement reads.

Meanwhile, the Italian oilfield services provider Saipem has started preparatory works for future pipelaying for the Nord Stream 2 project.

The pipelay barge Castoro 10 late in July assumed its starting position with the help of its eight anchors in the shallow waters of Lubmin, Germany. During operations, pipe segments are welded together on board the vessel and pulled ashore by a high-performance winch to connect the landfall facilities of Nord Stream 2 with the new offshore pipeline.

Gazprom has recently said the pipeline should begin operations before the end of 2019.

 

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