Denmark clears way for Russian gas pipeline

Denmark has granted Russia's Nord Stream 2 project a permit to build a section of the natural gas pipeline on the Danish continental shelf in the Baltic Sea.

Denmark clears way for Russian gas pipeline
Nord Stream 2 pipeline being laid in the Baltic Sea. Photo: Stine Jacobsen/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

“The Danish Energy Agency has granted a permit to Nord Stream 2 AG to construct a section of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipelines on the Danish continental shelf southeast of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea,” the agency said in a statement on Wednesday.

The pipeline being constructed under the Baltic Sea by Russia's Gazprom energy giant is nearly complete, but had not previously been granted permission to cross Denmark's exclusive economic zone.

The Danish Energy Agency noted in its statement that Denmark “is obliged to allow the construction of transit pipelines” under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Dan Jørgensen, Denmark's energy and climate minister, also told a press briefing of foreign journalists that it was “a purely administrative decision.”

“We are pleased to have obtained Denmark's consent to construct the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline through the Danish continental shelf area in the Baltic Sea south-east of Bornholm,” Samira Kiefer Andersson, Permitting Manager for Denmark at Nord Stream 2, said in a statement.

The statement added that “preparatory works, such as the installation of concrete mattresses and rock placement… and the subsequent pipelay” would start in the coming weeks.

The Danish permit covers a 147-kilometre-long stretch of the pipeline, which will directly connect Russia to Germany, and, according to the Nord Stream 2 consortium, over 2,100 kilometres of pipeline has already been completed.

Pipelaying has been completed in Russian, Finnish and Swedish waters, and “for the most part in German waters.”

In early October, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that even if Denmark were to block the pipeline the project would still be completed, but would be re-routed.

The Baltic energy link will double the capacity to ship gas between Russia and Germany, sparking concerns about Western Europe's increasing dependence on Russian gas. 

It has also raised fears that Moscow will be able to increase pressure on Ukraine, as Europe will be less reliant on the country for transiting supplies.

US Energy Secretary Rick Perry warned during a recent visit to Lithuania that the pipeline “would increase Russia's leverage over Europe's foreign policy”.

Perry added that the Nord Stream 2, together the TurkStream pipeline — which will supply Russian gas to Turkey via the Black Sea — “would enable Moscow to end gas transit through Ukraine by the close of the decade.”

US President Donald Trump has also said it makes Germany “a hostage to Russia,” and threatened the project and those tied to it with sanctions.

Nord Stream 2's proponents — led by Germany, the EU's biggest economy — say the pipeline will provide reliable supplies at an acceptable price.

Following the Danish announcement on Wednesday, shares in Gazprom rose by more than four percent on the Moscow stock exchange, hitting their highest levels since 2008.

Nord Stream 2 is scheduled to enter into service towards the end of 2019.

READ ALSO: Sweden's rejection of Russian pipeline brings Danes to table

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Denmark decries airspace violations by Russian planes

Denmark's government on Friday decried two Russian aircraft violating Danish airspace and summoned   Moscow's ambassador over the incident.

Denmark decries airspace violations by Russian planes
Russian MiG fighter jets. NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA / AFP

The defence ministry in one NATO’s founding members said fighter jets had been scrambled to counter the incursion on Friday,  Ritzau news agency reported.

“Completely unacceptable that Russian planes violate Danish airspace, even twice in one day,” Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said in a post to Twitter.

Kofod added that the repeat violation made it look like a “deliberate action”.

“We are still examining the details, but I have already taken the initiative to summon the Russian ambassador for a talk at the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs,” the foreign minister said.

The violations had occurred over the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea, south of Sweden.

“It is very rare that we see this type of violation of Danish airspace, so two in the same day must be deemed to be serious,” Defence Minister Trine Bramsen told Ritzau.

According to the agency, Russia has repeatedly flown over Danish airspace and in August 2020, a Russian B52 bomber also flew over Bornholm.