NS2 pipeline issued first German licence – but harder hurdles lie ahead

The laying of the Nord Stream 2  (NS2) gas pipeline that will run under the Baltic Sea between Russian and Germany came one step closer to being realised  this week when the Stralsund mining department issued a permit to the  project company for the construction of a 55km section across the north-east German region and its territorial waters. It is the first construction permit to be issued to the company – owned by Gazprom and partially financed by energy majors ENGIE, OMV, Shell, Uniper and Wintershall – from one of the destination countries.
The next permit expected to be issued (probably by the end of March) will be from Germany’s Baltic Sea economic zone, but obtaining further licences from Finland, Sweden and especially Denmark could prove more problematic.
 Last year, the Danish parliament passed a law that gives the government the opportunity to refuse permission to build a gas pipeline in Danish territorial waters for reasons of national security and  NS2 is now considering alternative routes.  It also faces opposition from Poland, whose Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki this week called for the US to impose sanctions on the project to discourage  Western participation. He may be pushing on an open door; in Warsaw over the weekend, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the US also considered NS2 a threat to Europe’s energy security.
Poland currently  imports most of its  gas from Gazprom  but is looking to find alternative sources of energy. Its current import arrangement with Gazprom runs out in 2022 and it has made it clear that it would prefer not to have to negotiate a new deal. It opened  its first LNG terminal at the Baltic Sea port of Swinoujscie in 2016 and last year Warsaw received its first spot delivery of LNG from the US. State-run gas firm PGNiG plans to buy more following an agreement signed in November and also  imports  from Qatar. Earlier this week, it signed an agreement with Denmark’s gas system operator Energinet for the transit of gas from Norway to Poland via Denmark through a Baltic Pipe pipeline.

Source: Gazeta