(Bloomberg) -- Germany is confident that hitches threatening the Russian-led Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline will be resolved to allow completion of the project on time this year.
In a letter to federal lawmakers dated Sept. 6, Deputy Economy and Energy Minister Andreas Feicht said the government expects that Denmark will approve an alternative route for the Baltic pipeline soon. Denmark in 2018 demanded that the stakeholders seek an alternative pipeline route outside its territorial waters, raising the specter of construction delays.
The German government “expects the approval process in Denmark to be completed soon permitting operations to start on time,” stated the letter, a copy of which was seen by Bloomberg News. Nord Stream 2 proposed two alternative pipeline routes.
Snags raised by Denmark are not the only risks to the project, which include potential U.S. sanctions. Germany said its support for the pipeline depends on a successful outcome of gas transit talks between the European Union, Russia and Ukraine.
The targeted date for the opening of the pipeline is Dec. 31, when Gazprom’s existing gas-transit contract with the Ukraine expires. German government is confident of a timely transit agreement between Russia and Ukraine, according to Feicht.
Feicht’s comments underscore how Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is becoming more vocal in its support for the project after years of parrying queries over its stance toward importing more Russian gas. Germany’s plan to exit nuclear and coal power-generation and wean consumers from heating their homes with oil is set to boost demand for gas.
The controversial project carrying Russian natural gas to Germany has divided EU governments, with nations led by Poland concerned about the bloc’s increasing dependence on Russian gas. The new link would allow gas to bypass Ukraine on its way to Europe.
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In a Sept. 7 opinion column the Die Zeit newspaper, former Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble criticized Germany’s record of ignoring the misgivings of its Eastern European partners toward the project.
The stance “wasn’t a showpiece of German politics and destroyed the confidence” of its partners, said Schaeuble, who is now president of the lower house of Berlin’s federal parliament.
Germany will need considerably more Russian gas in coming years as supplies ebb from the Netherlands, Norway and from its own domestic fields, Klaus-Dieter Borchardt, a deputy director-general responsible for energy policy at the European Commission, said in a speech in Munich on Tuesday. “There can be no doubt about that.”
The German government’s confidence that the 9.5 billion euro ($10.5 billion) Nord Stream 2 project will be built on time is “legitimate confirmation that Germany needs access to competitive gas,” said project spokesman Jens Mueller on the phone Thursday.
Nord Stream 2 “fulfills all the pre-requisites” for obtaining a license from the Danish government to continue building the pipeline outside its waters, said Mueller.
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