Nord Stream 2 certification suspended for the time being

Bonn (dpa) – Even the construction was difficult because of the resistance from the USA. It remains difficult even after completion of the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas pipeline: The Federal Network Agency has now suspended a certification process for the time being.

Without the green light from the Bonn authority, gas transport through the 1230 Kilometers of double line from Russia through the Baltic Sea to Germany are not permitted.

The background to the procedure is the EU Gas Directive, which stipulates a separation of the operation of the pipeline and the sale of the gas. The only shareholder in Nord Stream 2 AG is formally the Russian gas company Gazprom. Nord Stream 2 AG, based in Zug, Switzerland, applied to the Federal Network Agency for certification as an independent operator.

“After carefully examining the documents, the Federal Network Agency came to the conclusion that an operator of Nord Stream 2 line can only be considered if the operator is organized in a legal form under German law, ”the authority said. The company wants to respond to this by founding a subsidiary based in Germany. “With this step, our company wants to ensure compliance with applicable laws and guidelines,” it said on Tuesday.

According to the authorities, the subsidiary is to become the owner of the German section of the pipeline and operate it. As a new applicant, you must submit the relevant documents before the certification process can continue. The deadline for the procedure is January. Even if the Federal Network Agency gives the green light, a review by the EU Commission is planned. This could take up to four months for this – also because the political pressure from opponents of the pipeline within the EU is great. After the statement from Brussels, the Federal Network Agency again has two months for a possible certification.

The Federal Ministry of Economics described the decision from Bonn as correct. These are purely regulatory issues, said a spokeswoman. Subject to further reviews, this does not affect the Ministry’s assessment of the security of supply analysis. The ministry had come to the conclusion that the issuing of a certification for Nord Stream 2 would not endanger the security of gas supplies in Germany and the EU Post »(Wednesday):« The Federal Network Agency checks according to the law – and that’s a good thing ». The FDP expert Hagen Reinhold asked the company to quickly do its homework. CSU regional group leader Alexander Dobrindt said that the pipeline is an infrastructure for energy supply, the commissioning of which should be made possible “on sight”. But he thinks more competition in the gas sector is important. For example, the share of US liquefied petroleum gas should be increased significantly. The Bundestag member of the left, Klaus Ernst, criticized, however, that the decision is driving gas prices up further. These have risen by ten percent in some cases.

Kiev welcomes the suspension

The suspension was welcomed by the Ukrainian side as “good news”. At the same time, the managing director of the Ukrainian state company Naftogaz, Jurij Witrenko, accused Gazprom of “legal tricks” with the establishment of a German subsidiary. “This is a mockery of the European rules: it corresponds neither to the spirit nor to the wording of the European legislation on the certification of gas pipelines.” Naftogaz and the company that operates the Ukrainian gas transport system, which is also state-owned, had reportedly been invited to the certification process by the Federal Network Agency the day before. In the important transit country for Russian gas, the Baltic Sea pipeline is viewed critically.

Nord Stream 2 AG is trying in court to make the certification superfluous. The company is taking action before the Federal Court of Justice, an arbitration tribunal and the European Court of Justice against the relevant rules of the EU Gas Directive or their validity for the pipeline. In his view, a significant change in the policy discriminates against the project. It came into force 2019 – after the start of construction.

Gazprom announced the completion of the pipeline in September of this year. Half of the pipeline was financed by Gazprom and half by OMV, Wintershall Dea, Engie, Uniper and Shell. The pipeline is expected to deliver 55 billion cubic meters of gas annually.

Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) welcomed the Federal Network Agency’s decision. It failed on Tuesday before the Greifswald Higher Administrative Court with a lawsuit against the Stralsund Mining Authority as the approval authority. The DUH wanted to ensure that possible emissions of the greenhouse gas methane in connection with the pipeline are checked and referred above all to possible leaks in the previous gas transport and production in Russia. The court referred to controls that had already taken place in German jurisdiction. Russia, on the other hand, is not part of the underlying plan approval procedure.

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