Russia's Nord Stream 2 Pipeline Ready to Bypass Last Holdout Denmark Painlessly

No more permits are needed. If Danes don't issue one the pipe will be laid along an alternative route

Russia's gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 to Germany via the Baltic Sea can bypass Denmark with no additional cost, thus removing the last obstacle to construction as Denmark was the last country to not issue the construction permit to the contested pipeline.

"We have developed an alternative route that will not require any additional permits," the board member of Austrian OMV Manfred Leitner told the press on August 2 as cited by Vedomosti daily, while stressing that the cost of the project will remain at €9.5bn.

Reportedly the route can pass north of Bornholm island through the Exclusive Economic Zone of Denmark, rather than through its territorial waters that require government's permission. Previously Sweden unwillingly concluded that it has no grounds to block Nord Stream in its EEZ.

At the same time sanction risks still remain for Nord Stream, as a bill that mandates sanctions on the Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany was introduced to the US Congress on June 18.

The summit between the US President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki brought no clarity on the US position on Nord Stream 2 that competes with US supplies of LNG to Europe and is seen as an energy security threat by some EU members.

But some analysts suggested that domestic bi-partisan outrage over Trump siding with Putin on election meddling and other critical issues in Helsinki could backfire with more sanctions and tougher stance on Russia in Washington.

The summer 2017 sanction package already included the options of sanctioning pipelines. But in relief for Russian gas giant Gazprom in November the US Department of State said that the "focus of implementation" of the sanctions will not apply retroactively to export pipelines initiated before August 2017, reportedly under intense lobbying from the EU.

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