January 30, 2017 / 3:12 PM / in a year

Sweden drops objections to port striking Nord Stream deal

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden’s government has dropped its objections to a plan by Russia’s Gazprom (GAZP.MM) to use the port of Karlshamn in southern Sweden as a base for the construction of its Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, Swedish public radio reported on Monday.

Officials in Karlshamn, on the Baltic sea, will take the formal decision on Tuesday, but are likely to vote yes to an agreement after the government tempered its previous objections to a deal.

Late last year, the island of Gotland rejected a similar deal to support the construction of the pipeline after the government expressed worries about national security.

Public broadcaster Swedish Radio reported assurances had been given that authorities would be able to keep tabs on activities at the port and that Karlshamn already handles a large number of Russian ships.

The government will tell the municipality at a meeting later on Monday that an agreement with the Nord Stream 2 project’s subcontractor is not deemed to pose a security or defense risk.

A spokesman for Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said that she and the defense minister would present the government’s view at a press conference later on Monday.

    Both the Baltic Sea harbors at Karlshamn and Slite, Gotland, are situated in strategically sensitive areas, with Karlshamn around 50 kilometers from the large naval base at Karlskrona.

    Russian military activity in the Baltic Sea has increased in the wake of country’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and last year Sweden permanently posted military forces on Gotland for the first time in more than a decade.

    Gazprom plans to double the capacity of the existing Nord Stream pipeline under the Baltic Sea. This has met resistance, above all from Ukraine, which could lose transit earnings, and sparked concerns over European over-reliance on Russian gas.

    Reporting by Niklas Pollard and Daniel Dickson; Editing by Mark Potter

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