Swedish Permitting Process

Permitting requirement in Sweden

In order to lay pipelines on the continental shelf outside of Swedish territorial waters, a permit is required according to the Swedish Continental Shelf Act (SFS 1966:314). The act implements parts of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and specifically the right for all to lay cables and pipelines on the continental shelves outside coastal states territories.

The permit is applied for at the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation. An application requires an alignment of the pipeline on the continental shelf, and information about the measures that are needed in order to avoid, limit and control pollution from a pipeline (see 4 a § Ordinance of the Continental Shelf, SFS 1966:315).

A permit is issued by the Swedish government.

EIA Procedure in Sweden

There is no requirement to establish an EIA under the Swedish Continental Shelf Act. Nonetheless, Nord Stream 2 has adhered to the requirements in the EIA Directive and the Espoo Convention. As such the project has carried out both national and international consultations, and established the equivalent of an EIA, named the Environmental Study, as well as an Espoo Report describing the entire project from Russia to Germany.

After an initial review period by the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation and key authorities, the Swedish permit application – which contained the Environmental Study – was sent out for public referral. The Nord Stream 2 project’s consultation phase was scheduled so that the national Environmental Impact Assessments / Studies performed in each of the five permitting countries for the construction and operation of the pipelines were sent out for public consultation at the same time as the international public consultation under the Espoo Convention. In Sweden, the national and international public consultations ran in parallel between April and June 2017. After June 2017, the process continued with additional project information provided together with an updated list commitments developed in consideration of the statements received from the stakeholders during the public consultation.

The aim of the EIA Procedure

The aim of the EIA procedure is to evaluate the environmental impacts of a project, to ensure that consistent information on the impacts is available during planning and decision-making, and to provide the public with information and the opportunity to participate in the process.

The Environmental Study carried out in Sweden (i.e. the equivalent of an EIA) describes the main characteristics and technical solutions of the project with a comprehensive assessment of potential impacts. The Environmental Study also includes assessments of transboundary impacts from the project in Sweden. It also includes measures to prevent and mitigate any potential negative environmental impacts.

The potential transboundary impacts associated with the construction of Nord Stream 2 on Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany was presented in the Espoo Report filed in April 2017.  

Consultations under the Swedish Permitting Procedure

The consultation period for the Nord Stream 2 project was initiated in 2013 when a Project Information Document (PID) was submitted to national and international authorities (through the coordinating authority under the Espoo Convention), NGOs and other stakeholders. During the public consultation period held between April and June 2013, statements from various authorities and NGOs were requested and public meetings held. This first phase of the EIA procedure was completed in June 2013.

Based on the feedback received during this initial consultation process, Nord Stream 2 carried out environmental investigations and assessments in order to establish the national EIAs (in Sweden the Environmental Study) and the Espoo documentation.

During autumn 2015 and spring 2016 various meetings were held with stakeholders pertaining to specific questions raised during the previous consultation. Furthermore, a project information update was sent out to all stakeholders that participated in the previous consultation.

The Swedish part of the project filed an application for the construction of the pipeline system on the Swedish continental shelf (Exclusive Economic Zone), outside Swedish territorial water, in September 2016. As stated above, the application was reviewed by the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation, as well as specific stakeholder authorities, in order to assess whether supplementary information was required before the application was sent out for public referral. This step in the permitting procedure, called the administrative referral, ended in February 2017.

By April 2017, the Swedish application as well as applications of the other national jurisdictions along Nord Stream 2’s route were ready for public referral at both national and international level.

International public referrals were held under the Espoo Convention between April and September 2017. A comprehensive Espoo documentation was filed to the nine countries along the Baltic Sea that are potentially impacted by the construction and operation of Nord Stream 2, and international opinions and statements were requested. Nord Stream 2 responded to the questions raised during the second half of 2017.

The Swedish public referral phase was held between April and June 2017 and continued during the autumn due to questions and comments raised by some stakeholders. During this period Swedish authorities, citizens and other interested parties had the opportunity to state their opinions on the application and EIA documentation. At the end of the public referral, Nord Stream 2 obtained all statements and provided answers to the statements made by national and international stakeholders. Nord Stream 2 filed several supplements to the permit application to respond to the various statements and questions filed during the public referral phase during fall 2017. 

The Swedish government thereafter had all required information at hand to draft its decision. On June 7, 2018, the government granted permission for the route mentioned in Nord Stream 2's application. The permit includes a consultation condition aiming at safeguarding the possibility of using and repairing existing underwater cables and pipelines, as well as a number of commitments on precautionary measures and safety precautions that mainly target the sensitive environment of the Baltic Sea, shipping, maritime safety and fisheries.

The timeline of the Swedish permitting process:

Nord_Stream 2_Timeline_permitting_Sweden_EN

(Click to enlarge)