Rather, on the contrary, Copenhagen found itself in an ambiguous situation: the environmental risks of SP-2 disappeared, and the legal consequences for countering the project appeared. Who would have thought that Denmark would be such a significant player in the gas market in Europe! But here the main thing is not the size, but the strategic location: my islands, my territorial waters, what I want, I turn back. To whom I smile, and to whom I will turn to one place.
Scandinavian favor recently turned into a permit issued by Denmark for the construction of an outlet for the Baltic Pipe gas pipeline on land on the east coast of the country. In the Danish Agency for Environmental Protection, it is number one. With the second permit, on construction in the Danish waters of the offshore section of the pipeline from Norway to Poland, apparently, they will not pull for a long time.
But wait: about the same thing, and even without going to land, I asked Denmark for Nord Stream 2, the construction operator for the Nord Stream 2. Just need to build a small section of the underwater section of the pipeline near the island of Bornholm. The first application from Nord Stream 2 was filed back in 2017, and it's still there.
Denmark, as a scrupulous lady, decided to rest on the highest values - on the environmental aspects of the SP-2 gasket. Say, won't the gas pipeline from the east damage the Danish nature so vulnerable? At the same time, other countries have already issued permits for its construction. For some reason, the project did not cause any environmental concerns for Sweden, Finland and Germany. It is noteworthy that the "Nord Stream 2" will be laid next to its predecessor - the "Nord Stream". And about it, Denmark has no questions in the past.
After the first permit for Baltic Pipe was issued by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, all environmental nebulae around SP-2 finally disappeared. It is not at all a concern about the gentle maritime nature of the Baltic Sea. Just a small Scandinavian country decided to play geopolitical muscles.
But not alone: Denmark simply decided on its position, finally moving into the block of opponents of the Nord Stream 2. In it, as is known, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Poland are listed, and now Denmark. And behind them, the shadow of a well-known overseas power looms unambiguously. Well, “Baltic Pipe” is not served as an alternative to SP-2. True, it is kind of skinny and dusty.
The project of this pipeline is at least 20 years old. He lay for a long time in the European reserves - investors didn’t want to be interested in them. Last year, experts were skeptical about his prospects. The EU has slowed down and kept putting off the allocation of investment in the Norwegian-Polish pipeline.
But as the threat from the east approached, that is, with the active construction of the Nord Stream 2, the Baltic Pipe changed before our eyes. Lobbyists found money in the depths of the EU, the Norwegian-Polish gas pipeline shook off the dust and loudly declared itself as a serious competitor to the gas onslaught from the east.
More precisely, this is stated by Poland, which is worn with “BP” as with a written bag. True, the alternative is some kind of parochial. Estimated pipeline capacity from Norway - total 10 billion cubic meters per year. Poland buys about the same amount annually from Gazprom. The contract with the Russian company ends in 2022 year. By this time, it is planned to complete the construction of the Baltic Pipe.
Helping a neighbor in the Baltic to promote the project is, of course, a noble cause. But what gains Denmark from these movements? Well, yes - Danish Energinet.dk is a contractor in the construction of the gas pipeline, but capital investments are not so large in principle - they are estimated at 1,7 billion dollars. In general, the transit case: allowed - paved. But you still have to deal with your neighbors in the region.
First of all, Denmark is faced with one way or another of debriefing with a neighbor - Germany. Weaving networks about the environmental risks of SP-2 is, at least, not very serious for this project. Gas is from the east, but the project uses the most modern western technologies, a whole pool of large companies is taking part in the construction - the real cream of the European oil and gas community.
How Germany will respond to the Danish "stick in the wheel" - is still unknown, but the "otvetka" will definitely be. Wait and see.
German maps that reinforce the harsh criticism of the Danish veto, much more Russian
The rhetoric of the Russian side has also changed. For quite a long time, Russia took a wait-and-see attitude, hoping that Denmark would not particularly persist in the "Nord Stream 2". All agreed: let the Danish environmentalists once again check the environmental components of the project. It was proposed three options for laying underwater gas pipeline. But when the pause dragged on, the first option was decided to withdraw.
Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has already stopped playing diplomacy, directly calling the actions of the Danish government a confrontational course.
“We regret to state that Denmark has taken a politicized position and is slow in issuing permission to lay the pipeline in its exclusive economic zone”,
Said the minister.
According to him, such a move goes against the principles of international maritime law, which allow the construction of energy infrastructure facilities in the waters.
At the same time, Russia rather rigidly set the deadlines for the further promotion of the Nord Stream 2. According to Viktor Zubkov, chairman of the board of directors of PJSC Gazprom, Russia expects Denmark to give consent for the joint venture on 2 in October, and then we can finish this very important project at the end of the year.
Copenhagen is hardly worth persisting and putting new stumbling blocks at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. After all, the Danish authorities themselves were in a not very pleasant situation. With the issuance of the second permit by the Baltic Pipe, they will not pull - why bring Poland a girlfriend? But clinging to the ecology makes no sense.
Experts point out that issuing a permit to a Norwegian-Polish pipeline, on the contrary, may speed up the resolution of the issue with the Nord Stream 2.
Yes, it is formally put in line after the “Baltic Pipe”. But after a certain time, Denmark should give a green light to SP-2, otherwise there is a precedent - you can go to court with very unpleasant consequences for Copenhagen. In addition, the right of the former remains with the Russian-German pipeline: it is he who must first lie on the bottom of the Baltic Sea, and only then the Norwegian-Polish gas pipeline will cross it.
There is no alternative
And here already for it not very pleasant times can come. The so-called intersection node must be coordinated with Nord Stream 2. And, of course, the question arises - whether he will arrange problems for the "alternative" pipeline. Theoretically, it can, but in practice it is unlikely to sink to such a "bottom".
And what about the Baltic Pipe itself? It is clear that he will never be any alternative to the North Stream 2. Weight categories are very different. Moreover, the Norwegian gas has long been dismantled by consumers. Norway annually produces about 118-120 billion cubic meters of blue fuel, and there is simply no room for a significant increase in production. Every year the Norwegians have to climb further and further into the sea in order to preserve the current production volumes. In other words, if Norway sends gas to Poland, other consumers will not receive it. Miracles do not happen.
The resulting deficit is likely to be covered by the very same Gazprom and, in part, LNG. The latter is just quite convenient for plugging gas "holes." And Russia has also prepared here - the fleet of LNG tankers is growing, and the liquefied fuel is already flowing to Europe. It is noteworthy that last year Poland reduced Russian gas purchases by 6%, and in general, supplies from the Russian Federation to Europe increased by 3,5%.
Thus, “Baltic Pipe” may well be an empty pipe, which, under certain conditions, may even “break”. Moreover, as many business media outlets in Poland themselves have noted, the country has yet to coordinate the laying of the Baltic Pipe ... with Gazprom.