Denmark readies law to block Nord Stream 2

The route of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. [Gazprom]

Denmark is considering passing a law that could block a disputed Russian pipeline project which would run through the NATO member’s territory due to security concerns.

The bill, discussed in the Danish parliament on Thursday (12 October) and backed by a majority, poses a threat to the nearly €10 billion Nord Stream 2 project, which critics say would increase European dependence on Russian gas.

Denmark currently has no law that encompasses foreign, defence and security policy, Energy Supply and Climate Minister Lars Christian Lilleholt told members of the Danish parliament.

The new law, which could take effect on 1 January 2018, allows Denmark to evaluate if projects passing through its territorial waters are compatible with the nation’s foreign policy, security and defence interests.

The Ministry of Transport and Energy would no longer make decisions on its own and a veto by Danish authorities would offer limited opportunities of appeal.

Lawyers have argued that under present rules, Denmark cannot block Nord Stream 2.

Denmark can’t block Nord Stream 2, lawyer argues

Copenhagen will have a hard time blocking the Gazprom-backed Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline passing through its territorial waters because it has already allowed Nord Stream 1 to use the exact same route, according to an attorney.

Russian gas giant Gazprom plans to lay the 1,200-kilometre Nord Stream 2 pipeline through the Baltic Sea to the German coast near Greifswald, where it would connect to the European gas transport networks.

While critics say the Nord Stream 2 would undermine conflict-torn Ukraine’s relationship with the West, Germany would benefit from it as a dominant point of entry for gas into Europe.

Built in cooperation with Anglo-Dutch Shell, Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall, Austria’s OMV and France’s Englie, Nord Stream 2 would “circumvent Ukraine as a transit country”, an EU diplomatic source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“You need to diversify the supply of energy to the European Union in order to enhance energy security, and here it is clearly not in line with that objective,” the source added.

Backed by Germany but rejected by many eastern European countries, Nord Stream 2 was primarily a product of Russian President Vladimir Putin and former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder (1998-2005), who has close ties with Russia’s energy sector.

Schröder smells of Russian gaz

Germany’s ex-chancellor hasn’t yet formally left Gazprom, but has already announced he will join Russian-owned oil company Rosneft. His taste for Russian money repels many Germans. EURACTIV’s partner Ouest France reports.

“It’s clearly the Germans, completely, that want to have this,” the EU source said.

“But how much the German government… is still interested, I doubt very much.”