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NORD STREAM

Danish Nord Stream delay ‘could cost €660m’

Denmark's demand for a third environmental assessment for the Nordstream 2 gas pipeline would inflate costs by as much as €660m and delay the pipeline by eight months, the Russian-led consortium behind the project has complained.

Danish Nord Stream delay 'could cost €660m'
Workers at the Nord Stream 2 construction site in Kingisepp, Russia, in June. Photo: Anton Vaganov / Reuters / Ritzau Scanpix
In a letter sent to the Danish authorities sent in April, the Nordstream consortium called for the Danish Energy Board of Appeal to overturn a demand from the Danish Energy Agency that the consortium submit an assessment for a third route past the island of Bornholm. 
 
“Delaying the project will result in a significant financial loss for Nord Stream 2,” the letter, which was obtained by the news agency via a freedom of information request, complained. 
 
Nord Stream 2 added that it had “repeatedly asked for a status update…without receiving any response”.
 
The agency confirmed to Reuters that the consortium had appealed the decision, and said that it had in response outlined the rationale for its request. 
 
 
The pipeline is highly political, as it will allow Russia to supply gas to Germany, its biggest customer, without relying on transit pipelines through Ukraine. In April, US Vice President Mike Pence reiterated US criticism of the pipeline, saying it was “wrong for Germany to become dependent on Russian energy.”
 
In a statement also issued in April, the consortium complained that the request “can only be seen as a deliberate attempt to delay the project’s completion”.
 
The delay to the pipeline is likely to mean it is not completed before Russia needs to sign a new transit contract with Ukraine,  after the existing contract expires at the end of this year. 
 
This will strengthen Kiev's hand in the negotiations. Russia's energy minister Alexander Novak last month revealed that Russia had offered Ukraine a short-term deal replacing the current 10-year contract. 
 
Nord Stream 2 said in May, following Denmark's request, that the pipeline might make its first deliveries in 2020 rather than at the end of this year as previously hoped. 
 
The consortium in June announced that it had decided to route the 1,230km pipeline outside Danish territory in order to simplify its application.   
 

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RUSSIA

Germany set to finish controversial Russian pipeline despite US protest

Work looks set to resume on the controversial NordStream 2 pipeline that will bring Russian gas to Germany despite a fresh protest from the United States on Saturday.

Germany set to finish controversial Russian pipeline despite US protest
Unused pipeline at Mukran Port in north Germany. Photo: AFP

German shipping authorities have issued an advisory for the Baltic Sea area where the final few kilometres of the pipeline are set to be laid, warning vessels to avoid the zone from December 5-31.

Ship-tracking website Marinetraffic.com also shows Russian pipe-laying ships Fortuna and Akademik Cherskiy moving towards the area.

These indications coincided with a statement from the acting US ambassador to Germany calling on Berlin and the EU to halt construction of the 1,200-kilometre (750-mile) pipeline, which is also opposed by many eastern European states.

“Now is the time for Germany and the EU to impose a moratorium on the construction of the pipeline,” acting ambassador Robin Quinville told business daily Handelsblatt.

This would send a signal to Russia that Europe was not willing to accept “its ongoing malicious behaviour”, the diplomat said.

“The pipeline is not only an economic project, but also a political tool that the Kremlin is using to bypass Ukraine and divide Europe.”

Many critics

Nord Stream 2 is a 10-billion-euro ($11-billion) pipeline that will run beneath the Baltic Sea and is set to double Russian natural-gas shipments to Germany, Europe's largest economy.

It has long been in the crosshairs of the United States, particularly by the Trump administration which has openly criticised European countries for their reliance on energy from Russia.

Work has been suspended for nearly a year because of US sanctions signed off by Trump in late 2019 that threaten asset freezes and visa restrictions for companies involved in the construction work.

As well as Russian giant Gazprom, which has a majority stake, the international consortium involved in the project includes European players such as Germany's Wintershall and Uniper groups, the Dutch-British giant Shell, France's Engie and Austria's OMV.

Trump has said Germany is “a captive to Russia” because of its energy policy.

Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic states are also fiercely opposed to the pipeline, fearing it will increase Europe's reliance on Russian energy supplies, which Moscow could then use to exert political pressure.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has face criticism in Germany for backing the project and there was speculation that she might withdraw support following the poisoning of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny earlier this year.

Navalny was treated in a Berlin hospital and German authorities concluded that he had been poisoned with a rare Novichok nerve agent developed by Russian authorities, plunging relations with the Kremlin to a new low.

In September when asked if the poisoning could affect Nordstream 2, Merkel's spokesman replied: “The chancellor believes it would be wrong to rule anything out from the start.”

A Nordtream 1 pipeline, which runs along a similar route to Nordstream 2, was inaugurated in 2011.

SEE ALSO: Denmark hails new German doubts on Russian gas pipeline

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