Denmark is holding off as long as possible before deciding whether it will permit the construction of the €9.5 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline near its Baltic coast amid intense lobbying by EU allies, Russia and the U.S., Reuters reported.
"In this case we're hurrying very slowly," a government source told Reuters. Denmark was expected to make a decision this spring but it has been delayed, and there is currently no definite timing as the country weighs the security implications, the newswire said.
A delay would weaken Russian gas giant Gazprom in negotiations with Ukraine for a new gas transit deal after 2019 and create uncertainty for the firm's five partners: Germany's Uniper SE and Wintershall Holding GmbH, Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Austria's OMV AG and France's ENGIE SA, the newswire said.
Denmark could veto the project, which is allowed under new legislation on security grounds and would force Russia, which supplies about a third of Europe's gas needs, to find a new route for the pipeline.
The Nord Stream 2 consortium said it is carrying out surveys for an alternative route north of the Danish island of Bornholm outside Denmark's territorial limits, and pipeline contractor Allseas has said a change of route would add less than 5% to total costs, the newswire said.
Northern European nations, particularly Germany which has already given a permit, want access to cheap gas from Russia. But eastern European countries fear the pipeline will make the EU beholden to Russian gas. Russia wants to reduce dependence on Ukraine as a gas transit amid strained ties between Moscow and Kiev after Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea and a pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine, the newswire said.