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Denmark cannot name timeline for its decision on Nord Stream 2

The need to find an alternative route to the Nord Stream 2 is linked to changes in Danish legislation

STOCKHOLM, March 28. /TASS/. The Danish Energy Agency will decide on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline after environmental impact of the pipeline route in the exclusive economic zone of Denmark is assessed and public hearings are held, head of the agency’s press service Ture Falbe-Hansen told TASS.

"The Danish Energy Agency has requested that Nord Stream 2 AG investigate the environmental impacts for a route south of Bornholm in the continental shelf area," Falbe-Hansen said.

Nord Stream 2 AG, who only shareholder is Gazprom, is the operator of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline construction project

"There are no details regarding a timeline. When the Nord Stream 2 company provides the Danish authorities with an environment impact assessment it has to go through the normal procedure with public hearings etc. A decision from the Danish Energy Agency will depend on this process," Falbe-Hansen added.

In August 2018, Nord Stream 2 AG filed an application for an alternative route of the pipeline in Denmark. The main route lies in the territorial waters south of Bornholm; the alternative, which is 36 km longer than the main one, can stretch across the exclusive economic zone of the country northwest of Bornholm. Earlier, the Danish Energy Agency asked Nord Stream 2 AG to include in the environmental assessment an option of laying the pipeline in the Danish exclusive economic zone south of Bornholm.

The need to find an alternative route to the Nord Stream 2 is linked to changes in Danish legislation. In 2017, Denmark adopted amendments to the law on the continental shelf. Under the amended law, the Danish Foreign Ministry may reject an application for the construction of a pipeline in the country's territorial waters. In the case of an alternative option, the construction of the gas pipeline is regulated by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Danish authorities will no longer be able to block the project.

The initial route is still preferable for Nord Stream 2 AG, and the company still expects that it will be approved by the Danish authorities.

Risks for deadlines

According to the Danish newspaper Politiken, the completion of the laying of the Nord Stream 2, scheduled for the end of 2019, may be delayed for a year.

Until recently, the alternative to the two options for the gas pipeline route was not considered due to a dispute over maritime borders between Denmark and Poland. However, the countries managed to agree, and in the coming months they should separate their responsibilities for the seabed. Now the Danish Energy Agency suggests that Nord Stream 2 AG should also consider this option, since the department is obliged to choose pipe-laying routes that pose the least danger to the environment and shipping.

"The energy agency should ensure the selection of the most optimal route from the point of view of environmental protection and safety. Now a new opportunity has emerged that needs to be studied more carefully," Falbe-Hansen said as quoted by Politiken.

About Nord Stream 2

The Nord Stream-2 project is an expansion of the existing Nord Stream main gas pipeline linking Russia and Germany. The pipeline is set to run from the Russian coast along the Baltic Sea bed to the German shore.

The pipeline’s length will be more than 1,200 km, throughput capacity - 55 bln cubic meters of gas per year. The cost of construction is estimated at 9.5 bln euros.

The pipeline will bypass the transit states - Ukraine, Belarus, Poland and other Eastern European and Baltic countries. The gas pipeline will pass through the exclusive economic zones and territorial waters of five states - Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany. Denmark is the only country that has not issues its permit for the construction of the pipeline. It also planned either to block the project or to postpone its implementation. Nord Stream 2 AG expects to receive Denmark’s permit by the end of 2019.

Gazprom's European partners in the project are Germany’s Wintershall and Uniper, Austria’s OMV, France’s Engie and Royal Dutch Shell.