Nord Stream 2 pipeline is under magnifying glass2017-06-10
Yesterday the Ministry of Environment hosted a public discussion on the project of expansion of the Nord Stream pipeline with representatives of its executing company Nord Stream AG. Although during the meeting it was emphasised that the pipeline was especially safe and would not have any environmental impact on the fauna and flora of the Baltic Sea, representatives of different Lithuanian institutions and companies that participated in the event remained doubtful.
In opinion of Director of the Pollution Prevention Department of the Ministry of Environment Mr. Vitalijus Auglys, it is necessary to study closely all received documents and hear opinions of the public and local specialists. “It is very important to formulate a clear and comprehensive position, which, we hope, will be taken into account by the impact generating countries: Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Russia. The predicted demand for natural gas in EU in future raises doubts: considering international agreements, the Paris Convention, investments into renewable energy and biofuel, consumption of natural gas in the region should decrease,” V. Auglys is convinced.
According to the project developers, in 2035 demand for natural gas in Europe will remain similar to the level of consumption seen in 2015. The Nord Stream 2 project, which is expected to start in the 2nd quarter of 2018, plans to lay two additional gas pipelines capable to transport 55 billion cubic metres of natural gas a year in addition to the existing first pipeline laid on the bottom of the Baltic Sea. It is said that development of the Nord Stream should support 3 key EU energy objectives: energy security (by ensuring an alternative to the existing energy sources), availability (the supply will enable to reduce prices, thus natural gas will become more available to the majority of people) and sustainability (by burning natural gas air pollution is reduced by half compared to burning coal).
The Baltic Sea is very sensitive to any negative impact as its bottom hides chemical and conventional weapons remaining there since the Second World War, varying from drowned ships to toxic substances. Representatives of Nord Stream AG assured that the latest technologies were used for the bottom studies allowing to analyse objects as small as 0.2 m in diameter, therefore the pipeline plan was very precise and obstacles would be avoided. In addition, they tried to dispel doubts regarding impact of bottom chemicals stirred in the course of construction of the pipeline: they said that the impact would be very short and localized therefore it would not affect the fish.
Although the pipeline is routed away from the Lithuanian exclusive economic zone, the Baltic Sea is very important for this country in both economic and environmental aspects. According to developers of the project, the pipeline construction should not affect the NordBalt power cable connection with Sweden, however in case of any such damage compensations would be applied to affected countries.
Lithuania has participated in the process of transboundary assessment of environmental impact of expansion of the Nord Stream pipeline since 2013. This assessment is conducted in accordance with provisions of the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo) because construction of large-diameter oil and gas pipelines may cause a significant negative transboundary impact. Russia not having ratified this Convention will follow its provisions to the extent allowed by national legal acts.