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Securitech: Energy infrastructure and the displacement of security authority in the Baltic Sea region

Carlsberg Foundation Young Researcher Fellowships

What

Over the past decade, the Baltic Sea region has witnessed a growing level of tension. Examples abound. Russian airplanes have systematically breached Danish and Swedish sovereign airspace, a Russian submarine was spotted in Swedish waters. These visible examples of Russian revisionism are worrying. However, the focus on the visible and spectacular makes current policies fail to understand a deeper level of transformation, which is changing the security of the Baltic Sea Region. A slow,but solidifying process at the level of unspectacular, technical, critical infrastructure is morphing the strategic landscape. Energy infrastructure stands central here. The project zooms in on these technical processes and consider them a form of politics that strips states of their security authority.

Why

Energy studies as an academic field has failed to grasp the enormity of the current situation. By focusing on security of supply, the power process of technification has been overlooked. Private companies, civil servants, environmental organisations and energy experts each in their way struggle to obtain the right to speak authoritatively on energy security. In the process, they define what security authority consists of, how to 'speak security', and how to make security decisions.This is a highly exclusive process, open only to the expert few, thus effectively sidelining our elected officials and the official structures put in place to secure the region.

How

Securitech seeks to define the mechanisms by which negotiations turn a “messy” world of e.g. nuclear energy into “organised” and non-catastrophic, manageable issues. We analyse three types of energy infrastructure at different levels of completion in the Baltic Sea Region. Planned nuclear power facilities in Poland (WP2), the recently opened Lithuanian liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal 'Independence'(WP3) and the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline set to run through Danish waters (WP4). Three central questions will steer the empirical work.

  1. What authority relations are established?
  2. Which type of knowledge is included/excluded as authoritative?
  3. What role does nationality play?

The project applies the method of document analysis, postmodern interviewing, and participant observation.

SSR

The beneficiaries are primarily states in the Baltic Sea Region. By identifying mechanisms of circumventing standard authority relations, state authorities will be able to more efficiently negotiate with private infrastructure contractors.