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Controversial Russian gas pipes can slip into the ‘Polish banana’, which Denmark has just thrown

The Danish authorities are asking Nord Stream 2 to investigate the possibility of a completely new route in the Baltic Sea. It can delay the project for a year.

The disputed gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 in the Baltic Sea will be further delayed due to Denmark. The Danish Energy Agency in Denmark has asked the company to investigate a completely new route past Bornholm to the gas pipeline, which will transport natural gas from Russia to Germany.

It can delay the project for up to one year. Especially in Russia, this will cause annoyance because the government is impatiently waiting for the state-owned Gazprom to use the new pipeline. Germany is also in favor of the gas pipeline, which is already being laid down on the seabed in the Baltic, where it is now uncertain which way it will be around Bornholm.

Conversely, a further delay will bring joy to the United States, where President Donald Trump has personally raged against Nord Stream 2 on the grounds that it increases EU dependence on Russia. In the Danish Energy Agency, press officer Ture Falbe-Hansen says that the decision is due to the obligation to find the route that is at least inconvenient to the environment and shipping traffic.

The Danish Energy Agency must ensure that one chooses the most environmentally and safety-optimal route. Now, an opportunity has arisen that needs to be investigated further, ”he says. When a new route is to be investigated, this entails, among other things, a greater assessment of the impact on the environment (EIA) as well as a series of consultations in accordance with the Espoo Convention.

“Usually, such a process involves consultations with neighboring countries and hearings in Denmark for some time. It takes a few months, ”says Ture Falbe-Hansen.

A year-long process

It is almost two years ago that Nord Stream 2 sent the first application for a route that will lead the gas pipeline along the coast south of Bornholm, where Nord Stream 1 is already located. Here, Denmark can, however, further say no, because it is within Danish territorial waters. This may well happen because several parties in the Folketing have become extremely skeptical of Russia.

Therefore, in August last year, Nord Stream 2 submitted an application for an alternative route north of Bornholm, which sneaks around Danish territorial waters. Here, Denmark cannot simply say no. But the Danish authorities are still obliged to take the greatest possible account of, among other things, shipping and the environment.

This is why the Danish Energy Agency is currently asking Nord Stream 2 to investigate the possibility of a completely new route through an area called ‘the Polish banana’. So far, a long-standing dispute over the boundary drawing in the sea between Denmark and Poland has blocked the possibility of placing a gas pipeline in the waters midway between the two countries.

Without an agreement on the boundary drawing, it is impossible to know who is responsible for, among other things, gas pipelines on the seabed. But last year, the two countries agreed on an agreement. Thus, the hurdle is gone. This is an opportunity here. And then it should also be investigated further, ”says Ture Falbe-Hansen from the Danish Energy Agency.

As recently as this month, the company behind Nord Stream 2 made it clear that it expects an immediate approval of the route north of Bornholm. The Danish Energy Agency has applied for one year for that application. With the new message from the Danish Energy Agency to investigate a completely new route, the company can provisionally shoot a white arrow after that hope.

For the time being, Nord Stream 2 AG rejects that it is possible to conclude what the development has for the project – including for the time horizon. Nord Stream 2 will now carefully evaluate the request from DEA (Danish Energy Agency) and then decide which steps to follow next”, a written comment says.

The above article is the English translation of the Danish article published by politiken.dk