Thursday

23rd May 2019

Sweden criticises Russia pipeline, but grants permit

  • Nord Stream 2 will supply gas from Russia to Germany (Photo: turkstream.info)

Sweden has joined Finland and Germany in granting Russia permits to lay down gas piplines as part of the much bigger Nord Stream 2 energy network.

It means Russia will lay two pipelines through Sweden's Baltic sea waters, with plans to have them turning a commercial profit by 2020.

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The move risks further increasing Europe's energy dependency on Russia, which has in the past used gas supplies to leverage political pressure on Ukraine and elsewhere.

But Sweden's government on Thursday (7 June) said they were unable to turn down the €9.5bn Nord Stream 2 proposal, which is fully owned by Russia's gas export monopoly Gazprom.

"Our judgement was that we were not able to say no," said Sweden's minister for enterprise and innovation, Mikael Damberg.

Damberg, in a statement, further explained that both national and international law do not give the government the scope to reject Russia's application.

He then said Sweden remains critical of the gas network.

It risks contravening the goals of the EU's Energy Union and may also not comply with EU legislation, he said.

The apparent contradiction to EU law and broader plans by the EU not to rely on Russian gas remain unresolved.

Damberg instead praised Sweden's role in shedding light on Nord Stream 2's "energy policy, legal and security aspects at European level."

The announcement comes amid an increasingly assertive Russia, whose planes have violated airspace around the region. Last month, the Swedish government announced plans to send people leaflets on what to do in case of war.

The Nord Stream 2 project is composed of two parallel gas pipelines from Russia to Germany. Each is some 1,200 km long.

Sweden had already granted permission for Nord Stream 1 in 2009, built between 2011 and 2012.

The second network running through its waters will be financed by German energy groups Uniper and Wintershall, Anglo-Dutch group Shell, Austria's OMV and France's Engie.

It would also concentrate some 80 percent of Russian gas transports to Europe on a single route.

Russia is also seeking permits from Denmark, which is currently undergoing a security probe over the proposal.

Opinion

Nord Stream II aims to undermine Energy Union

The Gazprom pipeline simply does not have any commercial bearing. Rather, it undermines the functioning and effectiveness of the European Energy Union and circumvents Ukraine for gas transits - paving the way for further Russian strong-arming in the region.

Burned cars fuel Swedish election debate

Sweden's first big party leader TV debate ahead of September elections was marked by the burning of dozen of cars in cities across the south-west of the country.

Analysis

EU purchase of US gas serves dual purpose

The EU wants to diversify the sources where it gets its natural gas from - while importing more liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the US could also slightly appease Donald Trump.

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