Nord Stream-2 submits first pipeline permit application

Worker prepare pipes for the Nord Stream pipeline before they get a concrete cover at a factory in Mukran on the Baltic island of Ruegen April 8, 2010. REUTERS/Christian Charisius

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Nord Stream-2, the company planning to boost the supply of Russian natural gas to Germany, started a process aimed at gaining official approval for its 1,200-km pipeline on Friday, saying it had submitted a permit application to Sweden.

Russia’s Gazprom and its European partners agreed the Nord Stream-2 project last year, but critics say it could limit supply routes and the energy security of the European Union, which gets a third of its gas from Russia.

“Permit applications in the four other relevant jurisdictions – Russia, Finland, Denmark and Germany – are planned to be submitted early 2017,” Nord Stream-2 said in a statement.

The Swedish government said the application would be subject to consultation and that Sweden would discuss the pipeline with its Baltic neighbors.

During a recent visit to Sweden, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called the planned pipeline, which would stretch across the Baltic, a “bad deal” for Europe.

European politicians, such as European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, have also expressed scepticism about Nord Stream-2, in which Gazprom is partnered by E.ON, Wintershall, Shell, OMV and Engie.

Gazprom’s gas routes to Europe have become increasingly politicized following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and role in the Ukraine crisis.

Half of the gas the EU imports from Gazprom is pumped via Ukraine. Nord Stream-2 would sideline the country as a gas transit route, depriving it of billions of dollars in fees.

Nord Stream-2, due to open in 2019, should double the amount of gas directly shipped from Russia to Germany.

Reporting by Simon Johnson; Editing by Dale Hudson