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NORD STREAM

Sweden, Denmark and Norway block Nord Stream from examining pipeline 

Nord Stream, the company which owns and operates the gas pipeline hit by suspected sabotage last month, has said it cannot examine the pipeline because it has not been given permission by the Swedish, Danish and Norwegian authorities. 

Sweden, Denmark and Norway block Nord Stream from examining pipeline 
A man working at the landfall area of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Lubmin, northeastern Germany. Photo: Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Sca

The twin Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines have been leaking huge quantities of gas since they were damaged in a series of suspected explosions on September 26th. 

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Nord Stream AG, the company which owns and operates the pipelines, said it had so far been unable to carry out its own inspections. 

“As of today, Nord Stream AG is unable to inspect the damaged sections of the gas pipeline due to the lack of earlier requested necessary permits,” the company, which is 51 percent owned by the Russian gas giant Gazprom, wrote. 

“In particular,” it added, “according to the Swedish authorities, a ban on shipping, anchoring, diving, using of underwater vehicles, geophysical mapping, etc. has been introduced to conduct a state investigation around the damage sites in the Baltic Sea.”

“According to information received from the Danish authorities, the processing time of the Nord Stream AG request for the survey may take more than 20 working days.”

The company said it was also being blocked by Norwegian authorities. 

Nord Stream has chartered “an appropriately equipped” survey vessel in Norway, the company wrote, but the vessel has been denied the “green light from Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs” to depart for the Baltic.

Swedish prosecutors on Monday imposed a ban on all marine traffic, submarines and drones on the entire region around the leaks, with some commentators questioning the legality of the ban.

The prosecutors say they have made the decision because police are carrying out “a crime scene investigation”. 

“The investigation continues, we are in an intensive stage. We have good cooperation with several authorities in the matter. I understand the great public interest, but we are at the beginning of a preliminary investigation and I therefore cannot go into details about which investigative measures we are taking,” prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist said in a press release. 

Sweden’s security police Säpo took over the investigation from the police on September 28th, on the grounds that the suspected crime “could at least partly have been directed at Swedish interests”. 

“It cannot be ruled out that a foreign power lies behind this,” it said in a press release. Ljungqvist leads the Swedish prosecution agency’s National Unit for Security Cases.

In a statement on Sunday, Säpo said they were working “intensively” with the Swedish Coast Guard and the Swedish Armed Forces to investigate who might be responsible for the sabotage.

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BREAKING

Sweden’s electricity price subsidy now postponed until February

Households and businesses will not receive any compensation for high power prices over the last year until February at the earliest, Swedish government ministers confirmed at a press conference on Wednesday.

Sweden's electricity price subsidy now postponed until February

During the election campaign, the Moderate, Christian Democrat, and Liberal parties made a common election promise to have a system of compensation “in place” by November 1st. 

“If we win the election and Sweden receives a new government, we are are going to make sure that high-cost protection against the current extreme electricity prices for households and businesses will be in place by November 1st,” they wrote. “Household finances will be rescued in good time for Christmas. That is a common election promise.” 

But at a press conference on Wednesday morning, social insurance minister Anna Tenje said that payments would not begin until well into 2023. 

“The payments will begin in February if nothing unexpected happens,” she said. 

For businesses, the wait could be even longer. 

“The first step will be payments to households. The second stage will be payments to businesses, and that question is still being decided,” energy and business minister Ebba Busch said. 

At a press conference, Magdalena Andersson, leader of the opposition Social Democrats accused Sweden’s prime minister of “lying to the Swedish people right in the face”. 

“When it comes to high cost protection for electricity, he was very clear ahead of the election that it would be in place on November 1st,” she said. “He couldn’t explain how, but it was a clear promise to the people of Sweden and that has now been broken. It’s not as if anything has happened to explain why he couldn’t live up to the promise.” 

“Don’t make lofty promises that aren’t trustworthy. That’s what I said during the election campaign.” she added.

The Social Democrats’ energy spokesperson, Fredrik Olovsson, said that the government should give a new instruction to the country’s grid operator Svenska Kraftnät, so that even people in northern Sweden could receive the subsidy. 

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