A controversial project that has divided the EU and has exacerbated the tension between Moscow and Washington, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, is on its way to completion and is expected to be active soon, as the last substantial obstacle is gone. The project, which is about 90% ready, had been pending for more than two years with the approval of Denmark, which eventually agreed with Finland, Sweden and Germany. According to Russia’s Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Konstantin Kosacev, the 1,230km pipeline in question may be ready in the coming months.
As the Danish Energy Agency announced, Copenhagen is agreeing to have the pipeline cross its 147km shelf, as it was one of the three versions proposed by its construction consortium. The Danish government has even opted to cross the pipeline south of Bornholm and the consortium that manufactures it has announced that work will begin in Danish waters in the coming weeks. Upon completion, the pipeline will transport natural gas from Russia’s Gazprom directly to Germany passing under the Baltic Sea. It will, in short, bypass the Ukraine through which the Russian natural gas destined for Europe is now passing.
This means that when Nord Stream 2 is put into operation, Kiev will lose the revenue it receives for the transportation of gas through Ukrainian territory. That is why the pipeline in question has provoked a backlash from both Ukraine and the Baltic states in line with Kiev. As soon as the Copenhagen consensus became known, Andrei Koboliyev, chief executive of Naftogaz, a Ukrainian state-owned gas company, called on “the strongest Western countries to impose sanctions” on the plan in order to prevent its completion. The many EU Member States have been opposed to the new pipeline on the grounds that it is exaggerating Europe’s energy dependence on Russia.
As for Washington, it has threatened to impose sanctions on the pipeline and on companies involved in its construction. Among them are the German companies Wintershall and Uniper, the French Engie, the Austrian Omv and the British Royal Dutch Shell. These companies contribute half of the cost of the pipeline construction, although NordStream 2 is wholly owned by Gazprom’s Russian energy giant. The US president even argues that Nord Stream 2 will make Germany an energy hostage to Russia. However, according to Il Sole, the cause of Washington’s reactions is not primarily geopolitical but economic, as the pipeline in question is an obstacle to Washington’s plans to ensure that Europe buys American liquefied natural gas (LNG).
The role of Germany
Germany has consistently denied that the pipeline aims to bypass Ukraine and thus deprive it of the approximately 2.69 billion euros it pays annually for the transportation of Russian gas through its territory. In their contact with the Russian president, the German Chancellor reiterates that the pipeline passing through the territory of Ukraine must remain active. In fact, it has repeatedly made it a condition for Berlin not to abandon the Nord Stream project gas transmission via Ukraine and added that Mrs Merkel discussed the matter with the Russian president in a telephone conversation. Moreover, Days before the end of the ninth round of talks between Russia and Ukraine on the renewal of a contract signed by the two countries to transport Russian gas through Ukrainian territory. Some analysts estimate that in the next round of talks to pay in Kiev, Gazprom may now show more intolerance.