Denmark refuses to authorize Nord Stream 2

Denmark is threatening to make things difficult for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project. Russia has already laid one third of the pipeline alongside this small Scandinavian country, but Denmark has still not given permission for construction. Experts are predicting that Russia will lose its temper, because the delays are causing huge unforeseen costs. Denmark, on the other hand, is struggling to decide who to side with – neighboring Germany or the powerful US.

The political fears surrounding the Nord Stream 2 project have not subsided.

The matter concerns a new stretch of pipeline in the waters between the Danish island of Bornholm and Poland. Previously, an alternative to the two initial options was not considered due to a maritime border dispute between Denmark and Poland. However, the countries are expected to resolve the dispute in the coming months, which will open up room for maneuvering.

A number of informed sources have reported that it is highly likely that Denmark will ask Nord Stream 2 to submit a third application to lay the pipeline between Poland and Bornholm, which will cause further delays. Denmark has long been opposed to the Russian gas company’s pipeline project. Danish opposition has already led to downtime and $114 million in unforeseen costs.

“Denmark has been stubborn for a long time, and its stance has been a painful blow to Nord Stream 2,” observes Trine Villumsen Berling, a political scientist at the University of Copenhagen and an expert on energy and security policy.

“For this, [Denmark] could soon end up on Moscow’s blacklist,” believes Flemming Spidsboel, senior researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies.

On the other hand, by delaying the construction, Denmark could gain favor with Washington. US President Donald Trump opposes the gas pipeline project, and has criticized Germany for supporting it.

The sharp conflict between US and German interests is one of the primary reasons why Denmark has not yet given the go ahead for construction. The managers of the Nord Stream 2 project submitted their first application nearly two years ago. At the time, it was assumed that the pipes would be laid south of Bornholm, parallel to the existing Nord Stream 1 line. In such a case, Denmark could answer “no” without a second thought, because that would put the pipeline in its territorial waters, and the opposition in Danish parliament is demanding that Russia be punished for its aggression in Ukraine.

In order to safeguard itself from such an outcome, Nord Stream 2 filed a second application in August 2018. The alternative route runs to the north of Bornholm and avoids Denmark’s territorial waters. In this case, Denmark cannot simply decline the request, unless it can cite fears for its own national interests, such as maritime transport and ecology.

The Russian embassy in Copenhagen reported that a further delay of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is not being considered.

A Nord Stream 2 representative said in an email that the company is expecting to receive the green light for its second application.

The Danish ministers of foreign affairs and ecology declined to comment.

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