Russia Announces Completion of Nord Stream 2 Division Pipeline, Energy News, ET EnergyWorld
Nord Stream 2 is expected to double natural gas supplies from Russia to Germany, but this has increased tensions between the European Union and Washington.
Critics say the pipeline will increase Europe’s dependence on Russian gas and bypass Ukraine.
The boss of energy giant Gazprom, Alexei Miller, announced on Friday that construction was “fully completed”.
A key controversy is that the pipeline diverts supplies from an existing route through Ukraine and is expected to deprive the EU partner of crucial transit fees from Russia.
Ukraine – at odds with Russia since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 – has warned Europe that the pipeline could be used by Moscow as “a dangerous geopolitical weapon”.
“Ukraine will fight against this political project, before and after its completion and even after the go-around,” Sergiy Nykyforov, spokesperson for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, told AFP.
US State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter said Washington “will continue to oppose this pipeline as a Russian geopolitical project which is a bad deal for Europe.”
But Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said critics should end efforts to block the project and instead agree to “mutually beneficial terms” for its operation.
“It is clear to everyone, including critics of Nord Stream 2 and those who have desperately opposed its construction, that it cannot be stopped,” she said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called for the project to be launched “as soon as possible” and said “everyone” would benefit.
German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Nord Stream 2 had submitted a relevant request to the Federal Network Agency to begin operations.
Running from Russia’s Baltic coast to northeastern Germany, the 1,200-kilometer (745-mile) submarine pipeline follows the same route as Nord Stream 1, which was completed over a decade ago. .
Like its predecessor, Nord Stream 2 will be able to deliver 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year to Europe, increasing the continent’s access to relatively cheap natural gas at a time of declining national production.
– “Victory for Russia” – “It is a victory for Russia, especially given the enormous opposition that the project has encountered, from the United States but also from European countries,” Dmitry told AFP Marinchenko, a Fitch analyst.
Besides Ukraine, countries like Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland are at risk of losing transit fees because of the pipeline, he added.
Gazprom has a majority stake in the 10 billion euros (12 billion dollars) project. The Germans Uniper and Wintershall, the French Engie, the Anglo-Dutch Shell and the Austrian OMV are also involved.
Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is Chairman of the Nord Stream Shareholders’ Committee.
Russia and Germany insist that Nord Stream 2 is a business venture, but analysts disagree on its economic benefits.
A 2018 report by German think-tank DIW said this was unnecessary and undertaken on the basis of forecasts that “dramatically overestimate” demand in Germany and Europe.
Germany, Europe’s largest economy, imports around 40% of its gas from Russia, and Berlin believes the pipeline has a role to play in the country’s transition to coal and nuclear power.
– US olive branch – US sanctions against Russian ships laying the pipeline have succeeded in delaying Nord Stream 2, angering Germany.
But President Joe Biden, eager to renew transatlantic ties strongly strained by his predecessor Donald Trump, in May lifted sanctions against the Russian-controlled company behind the project.
Analysts saw the move as an olive branch to Berlin, whose backing counts Washington in the face of other challenges, including the rise of China.
Zelensky said the lifting of sanctions was a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Reaffirming his support for Ukraine, Biden welcomed Zelensky to the White House in September.
After the meeting, Zelensky said Biden assured him Washington would impose sanctions on the pipeline if there were “violations” from Russia that created problems for Ukraine’s energy security.
Critics of Washington’s opposition to the pipeline point out that the United States also wants to increase sales of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe.