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Denmark awards permit to operate Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Danish waters

Highlights

Follows permit for construction awarded in October 2019

Nord Stream 2 still incomplete, 150 km left to lay

Developer still considering options for pipelaying: spokesman

London — The Danish Energy Agency said Oct. 1 it had awarded a permit to the developer of the almost complete Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany to operate the link in its waters.

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The Gazprom-owned Nord Stream 2 operating company applied for the permit to operate the line in Danish waters in November last year shortly after the DEA approved the construction permit for the pipeline.

The permit to operate is dependent on a number of conditions, the DEA said.

"Commissioning can only take place when at least one of the pipelines has been tested, verified and when relevant conditions in the construction permit and the operations permit have been met," it said.

A little over 150 km of Nord Stream 2 remains to be laid in Danish and German waters, but it remains unclear how and when the pipeline will be completed.

"We are still considering different options for the resumptions of the pipelay and will inform about our plans in due time," a spokesman for Nord Stream 2 told S&P Global Platts Oct. 1, confirming that it had received the operations permit for the pipeline section traversing the Danish Exclusive Economic Zone.

The permit to operate is a necessary step before Nord Stream 2 can begin to flow gas, but while the pipeline is incomplete does not mean the project is any closer to starting up.

Permit appeal

The DEA said the permit was subject to conditions from the construction permit from October last year being maintained "to the extent that they are relevant in relation to the operating permit or have not yet been met."

It added that anyone with "significant and individual interest" in the decision can appeal in writing to the Danish Energy Board of Appeal.

Complaints must be submitted in writing within four weeks from the time the decision is made public.

Nord Stream 2 -- which would double the capacity of the gas corridor via the Baltic Sea to Germany to 110 Bcm/year -- was originally meant to start up by the end of 2019 and would reduce the need for Russia to use Ukraine as a transit country for gas supply to Europe.

It has provoked strong international opposition and it was the threat of US sanctions against pipelaying companies that forced work to be suspended in December last year.

The poisoning of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny in August has also triggered renewed calls for Germany to halt Nord Stream 2.

While the political debate continues to intensify, there is no indication work to resume pipelaying is close.

The pipelaying vessel expected to carry out the work, the Akademik Cherskiy, remains in the German port of Mukran.

Other vessels -- considered as potential support vessels -- have come and gone from the port, including the Ivan Sidorenko.