Minister for Enterprise and Innovation Mikael Damberg has said that “the starting point in international law is that all States are entitled to lay pipelines, through the ‘exclusive economic zone’ of the coastal State. The Government has now examined the application and notes, as Finland has recently done, that national and international law do not give the Government scope to reject the application,”
He added that “at the same time, the Government has made clear that Sweden is critical to the Nord Stream 2 project as it risks contravening the goals of the EU’s Energy Union and not complying with applicable EU legislation. Sweden, together with Denmark, has played a crucial role in raising the issue on the EU’s agenda in order to shed light on the project’s energy policy, legal and security aspects at European level.”
The Nord Stream 2 project comprises two parallel gas pipelines from Russia to Germany, each with a length of approximately 1 200 km, and the application examined by the Government concerns the section that runs outside Swedish territory but within the ‘Swedish exclusive economic zone’.
The pipelines will be placed alongside the existing pipelines, Nord Stream 1, which received permission from the Government in 2009 and were constructed between 2011 and 2012. The company plans to carry out the project during 2018 and 2019 and bring it into commercial operation at the beginning of 2020.
According to the Government’s decision, the permit includes a consultation condition aimed at safeguarding the possibility of using and repairing existing underwater cables and pipelines. The company must, in good time before laying the pipelines, consult with owners of existing cables and pipelines on the continental shelf on technical aspects that arise where the pipelines cross each cable and pipeline. In addition to this, the company has made a number of commitments on precautionary measures and safety precautions that mainly target the sensitive environment of the Baltic Sea, shipping, maritime safety and fisheries.
With regard to the defence interests that have been brought to the fore by the request to use Swedish ports for the storage of pipes during the construction phase, security enhancement measures have been taken through collaboration by the Swedish Armed Forces and other relevant authorities in the Karlshamn area. In March 2017, the Government appointed an inquiry with instructions to review the regulatory framework that aims to protect Sweden’s total defence activities. The presence of the Swedish Armed Forces on Gotland has also been strengthened, including through the establishment of a new regiment.
During its examination of the application, the Government has consulted closely with Finland and Denmark. Finland has already granted its consent for f the pipeline in the Finnish exclusive economic zone, while Denmark, with a starting point in domestic law, is conducting a special security policy examination since the proposed route passes through Danish territorial sea. Germany has granted permits and Russia is examining the permits issue.