Consultations regarding the additional gas pipeline to be built in the Baltic Sea are further continued2017-12-15
Yesterday, in Stockholm, consultations were held on the initiative of the Ministry of Environment between Lithuania and Sweden regarding an additional gas pipeline (Nord Stream 2) to be built through the Baltic Sea pursuant to the provisions of the Espoo Convention. Our delegation consisted of representatives from the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the Lithuanian Embassy in Sweden. In the opinion of Environment Vice-Minister Martynas Norbutas, an open discussion about the implementation and transboundary impact of the Nord Stream 2 project which is controversial in environmental, economic and energy security-related respects is beneficial for both countries. It provided the opportunity to our experts to receive information that is of interest to them and the Swedish institution could listen to Lithuania’s reasoned concerns.
The Swedish experts informed their Lithuanian counterparts that the permit to build a gas pipeline through their economic waters must be issued by the Government by the unanimous decision in compliance with the requirements of the Convention on the Law of the Sea transposed into the Swedish national law. No specific deadlines have been established yet. The main focus is placed on the completeness of research studies and assessments – state institutions must receive detailed and reliable information about the environmental impact of the implementation of this project, the dimensions of the environmental monitoring programme, and the measures applicable to reduce the negative impact in order not to damage the particularly sensitive ecosystem of the Baltic Sea. The Swedish experts are particularly concerned with the protection of Natura 2000 protected sites and their properties.
The gas pipeline expansion assessment process has been going on since 2013. In July this year, Lithuania presented its position and concerns related to the project to Sweden, just like to other Baltic States through the territorial or economic waters of which the gas pipeline is going to be built. In October, after the answers from Sweden had been received, additional bilateral consultations were requested to discuss them. During the consultative meeting held on the previous day, the Lithuanian delegation emphasised the common problems related to the implementation of the Nord Stream gas pipeline expansion project, its conflict with EU energy and climate change policy and its economic unfeasibility. Taking due account of the principles of the “zero alternative” provided for in the Espoo Convention and the consequences of surplus infrastructure in the European Union, the possibility of not implementing the project was addressed as well.
Our delegation was interested in the completed assessment of genotoxic impact: dissemination calculations for pollutants, credibility of their results, having regard to the potential uncertainty of data on sites affected by military munitions, particularly chemical weapon. Also, an interest was taken in concrete actions to be taken if the disposal sites of chemical weapons were discovered during the construction or operation of the gas pipeline in order to protect against the spread of pollutants. Furthermore, the alternative of changing the pipeline route – in case a new chemical weapon site is found, the project would be implemented at another location – was discussed as well. The compensatory measures for the planned negative environmental consequences, the drafting of emergency plans and their coordination between the Baltic States were also addressed. The Lithuanian delegation voiced its concerns that the impact of the project may interfere with the implementation of the international and EU requirements for the condition of the Baltic Sea. The plans are to further continue the discussion with the Baltic countries about the environmental impact assessment of the Nord Stream 2 project and the potential implementation of the project.
Public Relations Division
15 December 2017