Saturday

23rd Mar 2019

Russia warns Denmark on gas pipeline

  • Nord Stream 2 pipes on train in Germany in May (Photo: nord-stream2.com)

Russia has warned Denmark that its Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline might bypass Danish waters, after a new law that increased uncertainty on permits.

A spokesman for the Russian project told the country's state news agency Tass on Friday (1 December) that "due to the ongoing changes in the legislation and political disputes Nord Stream 2 decided to study alternative routes beyond the territorial waters of Denmark to reduce potential risks".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The spokesman added that, for now, "we continue working according to our [original] plan and the request we filed and we are watching how the situation is developing".

The spokesman also said that the project's backers - Russian gas company Gazprom and five energy firms from EU states - "required rule of law" to be upheld in Denmark in order to invest there.

The warning came after Danish MPs passed a law on Thursday that allowed the foreign ministry to forbid construction if the pipeline harmed Danish strategic or security interests.

Previous rules said the Danish energy and climate ministry could only block it on environmental grounds.

"Denmark is completely right to have concerns about Nord Stream 2, a Russian political project, a danger to European security, and a reversal of all the EU's good work on energy security," Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a former Danish PM and ex-Nato head who now works as a consultant for Ukraine, said.

The new law enters into force on 1 January, but is to cover Nord Stream 2's application because the environment ministry has not yet issued its decision.

The pipeline is to run through Finnish and Swedish economic zones and through Danish territorial waters south of the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea to Germany.

If Russia moved the route north of the island into international waters it would see Danish port firms on Bornholm lose hundreds of millions of euros in potential income.

Denmark was one of several EU states which asked the European Commission, earlier this year, to negotiate details of the project with Russia.

It said at the time that it would be hard for individual member states to stand in its way if the EU did not get involved.

The Finnish economic affairs ministry and the Swedish enterprise and innovation ministry are to issue their permit decisions later this year or in early 2018.

The European Commission is concerned that Nord Stream 2 would harm EU energy security by concentrating 80 percent of Russian gas exports in a single route.

It has also proposed a new law designed to stop Gazprom from using its monopoly on the pipeline to bully EU clients.

Germany has a veto on letting the commission negotiate with Russia, however.

Germany and other EU friends of Nord Stream 2 - Austria, France, the Netherlands, and the UK - could also derail the proposed law.

US sanctions

The Russian project faces opposition further afield.

Heather Nauert, a US State Department spokeswoman, said on Thursday: "It would pose security risks in an already tense Baltic Sea region".

She as said it would "significantly increase Europe's vulnerability to a supply disruption" in EU states such as Poland.

The US earlier this year threatened to impose fines on EU firms that invested in the pipeline.

Speaking to press on Wednesday, John McCarrick, a senior US diplomat, said Nord Stream 2 construction "is not something we are going to assume is going to happen."

Meanwhile, Russia is ploughing ahead with the project, which is to be completed by 2019.

The spokesman for the Nord Stream 2 consortium told Tass on Friday it had already signed €4.5 billion of contracts with 600 construction companies from 23 countries.

New EU law takes aim at Russia pipeline

Proposed law could complicate Russia's plan to build new gas pipeline to Germany, but jurisdictional issues mean project will be decided by Moscow and Berlin.

EU to pump €101m into Cyprus gas network

The EU also agreed on financing a study into the Southern Gas Corridor, to send a signal that the EU is still invested in the project - but leaves questions over renewable energy sources.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  2. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  3. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  4. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  5. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  6. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  7. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  8. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May

Planned German coal exit boosts case for Nord Stream 2

German commission recommends phasing out coal power over the next 19 years - which will provide additional arguments to build the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia, which both the European Commission and the US have reservations about.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us