The Federal Network Agency is temporarily suspending its procedure for the approval of gas transport through the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. First of all, the operating company must be organized according to German law, the authority announced. Nord Stream 2 has been completed, but the line is not yet in operation without certification.
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, the Swiss Nord Stream 2 AG, 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.
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.
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. After that, the Federal Network Agency would again have two months for a possible final certification.
Deutsche Umwelthilfe is suing Nord Stream 2
On this Tuesday, the Higher Administrative Court in Greifswald will also hear a lawsuit from the German Environmental Aid (DUH). 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 environmental protection organization refers to new findings that portrayed natural gas as more harmful to the climate, for example due to methane emissions during extraction and transport.
Up to 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas are to be transported annually from Russia to Germany through the approximately 1200-kilometer pipeline. The project has received severe international criticism in recent years. Ukraine, for example, through which a lot of Russian gas has been routed so far, fears that Moscow could use the new pipeline as leverage in the conflict with Kiev. As a transit country, Ukraine is dependent on income from the gas business. Should the financial resources disappear, this would have a direct impact on the already troubled budget.