Nord Stream has submitted the second annual environmental and social monitoring report to the Swedish authorities. The report is part of a series of five planned annual reports relating to the construction and operation of the natural gas pipeline in the Swedish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Nord Stream's environmental monitoring programme includes studies in sixteen different subject areas, such as impacts of the natural gas pipeline on water quality, mussels, fish, and seabed fauna. Socio-economic factors are also included in the monitoring, such as impacts on commercial shipping.
The permit for the construction and operation of Nord Stream's twin pipelines contains a requirement for environmental monitoring, and the company is investing a total of approximately 40 million euros in monitoring activities during 2010-2016. The basis for the environmental monitoring activities is provided by the environmental impact assessments and detailed sea bed surveys that were conducted before the permit application documents were completed, an undertaking which involved an investment of a further 100 million euros.
The construction of the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline started in 2010 in the Swedish EEZ. During last year activities such as rock placement, cable crossings and pipe-laying were carried out. During each of these activities monitoring was conducted. For example, during the pipe-laying the monitoring consisted of seabed surveys before and after installation. These include monitoring by a remotely-operated underwater camera (ROV), multi-beam echo-sounder and sonar.
Those parameters studied are benchmarked against the 2010 baseline results. Based on this it may be concluded that there is no evidence of either increase or decrease in the fish populations at the three survey locations near Hoburg's Bank and Norra Midsj?banken. Additional monitoring within these two Natura 2000 areas did not detect any measurable impact on the fish populations.
Measurements of water quality, e.g. turbidity and spreading of seabed sediments, demonstrate that the models and predictions in the Nord Stream application were conservative, i.e. the real impact was much lower. The Swedish government stipulated a threshold value for turbidity at 15mg/L – the equivalent of a winter storm – a limit which was never even close to being reached. The turbidity levels were in fact on average below 2mg/L during the period of Nord Stream's construction works.
The purpose of Nord Stream's environmental monitoring programme is to verify that the construction and operation of the natural gas pipeline are in accordance with permit conditions. The environmental monitoring is also intended to verify that the modelling in the EIA report is valid and that the Nord Stream pipeline will not lead to any unexpected environmental impacts.
The Swedish environmental monitoring programme has been developed by Nord Stream in cooperation with the responsible Swedish authorities; the Environmental Protection Agency, the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management, the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, the Geological Survey of Sweden and the Swedish Coast Guard.