Certification stopped for the time being: network agency slows down Nord Stream 2

Certification stopped for the time being
Network agency slows down Nord Stream 2

Setback for the controversial Baltic Sea gas pipeline: The network agency is suspending certification for Nord Stream 2 for the time being. The operating company must be organized according to German law. The line may not be put into operation without permission.

The operators of the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline have to wait for the green light from Germany to start operations. The Federal Network Agency has temporarily suspended its procedure for the certification of Nord Stream 2 AG as an independent operator and thus for the approval of gas transport through the Baltic Sea pipeline from Russia to Germany. First of all, the operating company must be organized according to German law, the authority announced.

Without certification by the network agency, the transport of Russian gas through the completed pipeline into the German domestic market is not permitted. “After a detailed examination of the documents, the Federal Network Agency came to the conclusion that certification of an operator of the Nord Stream 2 line is only possible if the operator is organized in a legal form under German law,” said an averaging from the network agency .

According to the EU gas directive, the operation of the pipeline and the distribution of the gas must be sufficiently separated. According to the Federal Network Agency, Nord Stream 2 AG, based in Zug, Switzerland, backed by the Russian gas company Gazprom, has decided to set up a subsidiary under German law only for the German part of the pipeline. This should become the owner of the German section of the pipeline and operate it.

Commissioning could take some time

The certification process will remain suspended until the transfer of the essential assets and human resources to the subsidiary has been completed, it said. The authority could then continue its examination. A deadline for the procedure expires in January.

Nord Stream 2 AG referred to the establishment of a Nord Stream 2 subsidiary: “With this step, our company wants to ensure compliance with applicable laws and guidelines.” The company could not comment on “details of the procedure, its possible duration and the effects on the start of operation of the pipeline,” it said.

Even if the Federal Network Agency gives the green light, a review by the European 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 has two months for any certification.

Gazprom announced the completion of the line in September. Half of the pipeline was financed by Gazprom and half by OMV, Wintershall Dea, Engie, Uniper and Shell. The 1230-kilometer pipeline from Russia to Germany is expected to deliver 55 billion cubic meters of gas annually.

Technically, the pipeline is already ready

The CSU in the Bundestag is basically sticking to the commissioning. The pipeline is an infrastructure for energy supply, the commissioning of which should be made possible “on sight”, said CSU regional group leader Alexander Dobrindt in Berlin. But he thinks more competition in the gas sector is important. For example, the share of US liquefied petroleum gas in the German energy mix should be increased significantly. Technically, at least the first line was approved for operation weeks ago by the responsible mining authority in Stralsund. However, gas transport into the German internal market is not permitted without certification from the Federal Network Agency.

The pipeline also employs courts. The Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU) and Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) are suing the Hamburg Administrative Court and the Greifswald Higher Administrative Court against the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency and the Stralsund Mining Authority as approval authorities.

The OVG Greifswald is negotiating today (Az .: 5k588 / 20OVG) a lawsuit from the environmental aid organization. It is directed against the Stralsund Mining Authority, which approved the construction and operation of the pipeline at the beginning of 2018. The authority had rejected an application from the DUH to review the permit for climate protection reasons. The environmentalists point to new knowledge that natural gas is more harmful to the climate, for example due to methane emissions during extraction and transport.

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