Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Nord Stream 2: German government invented russian-ukrainian gas-deal

In attempt to prevent the announced sanctions against pipelaying companies involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2, a head of deparment in the german State Department claimed thad Russia and Ukraine have found a settlement on the gas transit coming into effect at 2 p.m. next day and therefore sanctions would be unnecessary.

Yet no agreement have been signed between the two parties, only a framework agreement.

German government officials keep claiming that the sanctions would jeopardise the negotiatons between Russia and Ukraine on the gas transit until completion of Nord Stream 2.
However the sanctions made evident, that the sanctions strenghten the negotiation position of Ukraine.
Russia has even payed out an amount of 2,8 bn EUR that has been adjudicated to Ukraine by a Stockholm arbitration court in order to resume gas flow through Ukraine. Something Russia wouldn't have done without this pressure.

For more information see link below:


Sunday, December 22, 2019

Nord Stream 2: sanctions are in effect

As anticipated, U.S. President Donald Trump signed off on legislation allowing Washington to issue sanctions on firms involved in the €10 billion pipeline.

Swiss-dutch pipelaying-company Allseas has immediately stopped their activities on Nord Stream 2 after the entry into force of the sanctions explaining: "Allseas will proceed, consistent with the legislation’s wind down provision and expect guidance comprising of the necessary regulatory, technical and environmental clarifications from the relevant US authority."

To german government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer the sanctions "hit german and european companies" [n.b. no german company is designated by the sanctions], and "constitute an interference in [our] internal affairs".

U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, views the sanctions as deeply pro-European.

See more information here:



Friday, December 13, 2019

The impact of the EU General Court's OPAL decision

An interesting view by Alan Riley of the Atlantic Council in the OPAL ruling and its possible impact on Nord Stream 2:

"The OPAL judgment from the European Union (EU) General Court will undermine Gazprom’s market dominance in Central and Eastern Europe.
Case T-883/16 Republic of Poland v. European Commission (hereafter the OPAL case) is likely to have far more impact on European energy policy than just limiting Gazprom’s capacity to export natural gas via Nord Stream 1. In the OPAL case, the judges of the EU General Court established and elaborated a broad principle of energy solidarity drawing upon Article 194(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). This principle of solidarity, which will require member states, in all their energy market decisions with a potential cross-border impact, to take into account not only their own interests but also those of other member states and also those of the European Union as a whole, is likely to have a significant impact on the development of European energy law over the next decade. It will no longer be possible for member states to develop energy infrastructure while ignoring the vital interests of other member states. The OPAL case will also provide a basis for the European Commission, member states, and other interested parties to bring legal challenges against those member states who infringe the principle of solidarity.
More immediately, in addition to the OPAL pipeline, the OPAL case is likely to have an impact on Nord Stream 2, potentially making the path to full utilisation of the pipeline much less likely than it previously seemed. The OPAL ruling, for instance, makes it more difficult for Nord Stream 2 to pass the process of security of supply certification required by Article 11 of the Gas Directive 2009. That same directive in Article 36 also imposes significant supply security and competition criteria before an exemption could be granted from its liberalisation requirements. Those requirements will be more difficult to fulfil post-OPAL.
The ruling is also likely to make it more difficult for Nord Stream 2’s owner, Gazprom, to deploy legal mechanisms and corporate structures to avoid the application of EU energy liberalisation law to the pipeline. The OPAL ruling will also bear down on the development of Turk Stream 2. As an import pipeline, it will also be subject to EU law on EU territory, and the local energy regulatory authority will be required to apply EU energy liberalisation legislation in the light of the OPAL ruling.
Overall, the OPAL ruling is likely to make it more difficult for Gazprom to do individual deals that benefit individual member states, but may harm other member states. As a result, Gazprom’s capacity to play one EU member state off against another has been limited by this ruling."

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:


Thursday, December 12, 2019

Nord Stream 2 AG litigates against amended EU gas directive

Nord Stream 2 seeks arbitration in dispute with EU Commission. 

The Russian-owned Nord Stream 2 pipeline consortium filed a notice on Thursday (26 September), asking a tribunal of private arbiters to determine whether the European Union is in breach of its obligations under the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT).The move marks an escalation in the dispute opposing Nord Stream 2 and the European Commission, which carries risks for both sides. Settlements under the Energy Charter Treaty are sometimes in the billions of dollars.By amending its Gas Directive, Nord Stream 2 believes the EU has breached its obligations under Articles 10 and 13 of the Energy Charter Treaty, a legally-binding treaty originally signed in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
In particular, the consortium argues that the amended directive discriminates against Nord Stream 2, in breach of the EU’s Article 10(1) obligation not to take such discriminatory action, and in breach of the EU’s general obligation to guarantee fair and equitable treatment for investors.
See more information here:

Some observers deem that the ECT litigation could be a shot in the foot of the pipeline operator:

"A further problem for NS2 is that the EU is permitted, under ECT rules, to raise legitimate objective justifications for its legislation in its defense. Contrary to NS2’s claims, the EU clearly has legitimate policy objectives in play. For instance, by imposing the same rules on import pipelines as it does domestic pipelines, it aims to create a single regulatory playing field. 
Equally, EU liberalization rules on ownership unbundling regulation, third party access, and tariff regulation, combined with the express supply security assessment required under Article 11 of the Directive, protect legitimate EU interests. These include ensuring additional natural gas supplies, enhancing competition, functioning of the single market, and supply security. They already apply to pipelines within the EU, so it is difficult to make a compelling case that import pipelines are being targeted or expressly discriminated. 
Furthermore, NS2 clearly threatens these legitimate EU interests. The pipeline does not provide any additional gas supplies to the EU; it merely shifts gas flows from the Ukrainian Brotherhood pipeline to NS2. By flooding the west-to-east EU pipeline interconnectors, gas flows from NS2 split the EU gas market in two. With gas flows from NS2 running through CEE states on pipelines controlled by Gazprom and its allies, the company’s market power will be increased across the region. The CEE states currently have some transit security as gas flows from the Brotherhood pipeline flow further west into Western Europe. NS2 removes that transit security.  
Another difficulty with NS2’s ECT litigation is that it invites additional unfortunate (from NS2’s perspective) responses from the EU, particularly that EU law already applied to import pipelines. The underlying argument of NS2 by contrast is that there has been ‘radical change’ in EU legislation: that import pipelines were not subject to EU energy law, and then unexpectedly were. The reality is somewhat different. The EU did adopt an amendment to the Gas Directive 2009, formally extending the Directive to imported pipelines. However, EU law clearly applied to import pipelines before the amendment came into force: the Yamal pipeline, which flows through Russia and Belarus before flowing into Poland, was subject on Polish territory to the full application of the Gas Directive 2009. 
NS2 is an offshore pipeline and Yamal is an onshore import pipeline, but it is difficult to see what turns on this point. Domestic law (absent a lex specialis) applies equally to the soil of the nation, its inland waters, and territorial sea. The new legislation itself makes no distinction between offshore and onshore pipelines, saying in the new Article 2(17) that EU law applies “between a Member State and a third country up to the territory of the Member States… or the territorial sea of that Member State.” Clearly, the Gas Directive applies to both onshore and offshore pipelines."

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:


Nord Stream 2: as sanctions lie ahead, stakeholders become thin-skinned

The US congress, in a rare bipartisan proceeding, have resolved a legislative package in the framework of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that includes sanctions against companies supporting the construction of controversial gas pipeline Nord Stream 2.
The White House has indicated that US-President Donald Trump is going to sign the legislative package:
"U.S. Senate and House committees have agreed to include a bill sanctioning Russia's new natural-gas pipeline to Europe into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), putting up a potential roadblock to the project’s completion.
The House and Senate are expected to vote later this month on the NDAA, which often becomes a vehicle for a range of policy initiatives, as it's one of only a few pieces of major legislation that Congress approves each year.
The proposal attached to the bill that addresses Nord Stream 2 would impose U.S. sanctions on any companies helping Russia lay the $11 billion pipeline."
Sanctions would include entry bans and revocation of visa for executives and main shareholders of the companies involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2 as well as freezing of financial transactions of the persons concerned.

See more information here:

Meanwhile a polish ecological organisation, the Polski Klub Ekologiczny, has appealed the approval of the danish energy authority that cleared the way for the construction of the last segment of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
The ecological organisation claims that the operator of the pipeline, the Nord Stream 2 AG, didn't establish with a sufficient degree that the pipeline will not harm protected natural areas along the route.


After the resolution of the of the sanctions by US-lawmakers the chairman of the russo-german Foreign Trade Chamber, Mathias Schepp, urged for counter-sanctions.
Schepp is a former "Der Spiegel"-Journalist and former head of their Moscow bureau between 2006 and 2012.

German foreign minister Heiko Maas (SPD) on his part fustigated the sanctions in a tweet, stating that "european energy policy shall be decided in Europe and not in United States. We oppose on principle to foreign interference and to sanctions with exterritorial effects."

See also:


Friday, December 6, 2019

EU: 5 future gas key persons

The "Politico" magazine introduces five personalities that could have an impact on the gas market and setting the course of natural gas in the European Union.
- Kadri Simson, energy commissioner
- Philippe Sauquet, president of Eurogas
- Jerzy Buzek, Polish center-right MEP
- Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, secretary general of Hydrogen Europe
- Ditte Juul Jørgensen, director general at DG ENER

Read more on:


Sunday, December 1, 2019

Can US sanctions still stop Nord Stream 2?

According to sources of german newspaper Bild, the US Senate plans sanctions against companies participating in or are involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Primarily this would affect swiss company Allseas that is specialised in submarine pipelaying and deep-sea-cable-laying.
But also german energy groups like Uniper
Those companies would be excluded from the US market if they persist in their activity for Nord Stream 2 and should the sanctions effectively be voted.

Interestingly, the sanctions might be voted as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.

The US Congress takes the view that Nord Stream 2 increases the dependency of Germany and Europe from russian gas, that it jeopardises ukrainian security interests and drives a wedge between  E.U.-member states. The EU Commission and most member states oppose the construction of the highly controversial pipeline. Only Germany and Austria are staunch supporters of the project.

Friday, November 29, 2019

The role of Azerbaijan in Europe's energy security

An article in Foreign Policy of may 2018 but still an interesting read on Azerbaijan's important contribution to energy security. The country's geographical situation makes it favourable for LNG terminals in Georgia:

"Russia has a track record of using energy as a tool of aggression, and each barrel of oil and cubic meter of gas that Europe can buy from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, or Turkmenistan is one less that it must depend on from Russia. Currently, there are three major oil and gas pipelines in the region, which bypass Russia and Iran and run through the 60-mile-wide Ganja Gap: the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which runs from Azerbaijan through Georgia and Turkey and then to the outside world through the Mediterranean; the Baku-Supsa pipeline, which carries oil from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea and then to the outside world; and the South Caucasus pipeline, which runs from Azerbaijan to Turkey, and which will soon link up with the proposed Southern Gas Corridor to deliver gas to Italy and then to the rest of Europe."


"Indeed, given the strength of Moscow’s ties to Yerevan, the United States and Europe should prioritize relations with Baku as the critical trade, energy, and economic link between the east and west of the Eurasian landmass. The West should strive for cordial relations with Armenia, but the United States needs to be mindful and realistic when setting its strategic priorities in the region. Armenia is largely a lost cause; Azerbaijan, even with all its flaws, is a better bet."

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

US Congress sets up sanctions against Nord Stream 2 companies

Sanctions on companies involved in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline have been added to the draft 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch told Defense News on the sidelines of the Halifax International Security Forum.

“The reason for the push is that this window is closing. A lot of Nord Stream is done already,” said Risch, R-Idaho, adding he believes the sanctions will persuade the construction firms involved to stop work on the project.
“It will cost them dearly. I think if those sanctions pass [the companies] will shut down, and I think the Russians will have to look for another way to do this, if they can do this,” Risch said."

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:


Monday, November 25, 2019

EUGC sentence in OPAL lawsuit explained

In a lawsuit opposing the European Commission and Poland on the subjects of the internal gas market and the principle of energy solidarity, the EU General Court (the lower court of the European Court of Justice) ruled in favour of Poland in a September 10 2019 sentence.

The litigation began, when Poland disapproved yet another exception from the rules of the EU-gas-directive granted to the pipeline operator of OPAL in Germany.
OPAL (short for: Ostsee-Pipeline-Anbindungsleitung) is the pipeline that takes natural gas from Nord Stream 1 (operating since 2011) at the feeding point in north german Lubmin and forwards it through eastern Germany and to the Czech Republic.

In 2009 the german national regulatory authority Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA) made a request to the European Commission for two exceptions from stipulations of the EU-gas-directive to the benefit of the operator of OPAL that was not yet completed at that time.
The requested exceptions concerned the rules on third party access and tariff regulation the EU-gas-directive. Underlying is the problematic issue of the respective shares held by the two owners of the OPAL pipeline:  The Opal pipeline is owned by WIGA Transport Beteiligungs-GmbH & Co. (‘WIGA’, previously W & G Beteiligungs-GmbH & Co. KG, previously Wingas GmbH & Co. KG), which owns an 80% share of that pipeline, and E.ON Ruhrgas AG, which owns a 20% share thereof. WIGA is jointly controlled by OAO Gazprom and BASF SE. The company operating the share of the OPAL pipeline belonging to WIGA is OPAL Gastransport GmbH & Co. KG.
The European Commission approved those exceptions.

In 2013 and after that in 2016 the BNetzA requested adaptions to the exceptions granted in 2009 to the operators of the OPAL pipeline that was completed and operating by that time.
The variation proposed by the BNetzA consisted of replacing the restriction imposed by the original decision on the capacity that could be reserved by dominant undertakings and in consequence increase the capacity of the pipeline.

In October 2016, the Commission adopted the exemption of the OPAL pipeline from the requirements on third party access and tariff regulation.
Poland brought legal proceedings against this decision before the EUGC claiming that this decision violates several principles of EU law and international treaties and therefore should be annulled.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Nord Stream 2: german government lobbied against US-sanctions

A not specified western european intelligence service claims that Gazprom-subsidiary Nord Stream 2 AG gained access to highest reaches of german government and was able to feed them the Kremlin narrative that US sanctions against pipe laying contractors have the finality to destroy the european energy security architecture and eliminate Europa as the main economic competitor.

German newspaper Bild has obtained a document by the intelligence service according to which german chancellor Angela Merkel has personally sent envoys to the US in order to lobby against sanctions in US Congress.

German ambassador in the US, Emily Haber, has sent a letter to influential republican senators in which she expresses her concerns that US Congress may resolve sanctions against Russia.

In a conversation with Eliot Engel, member of the Democrats in the trade and energy committee, Haber explained that sanctions against Russia would jeopardize the transatlantic relationship.

Sanctions against contractors and other companies could delay the termination of Nord Stream 2 for up to five years.
Without obstacles Nord Stream 2 will be operational in fall 2020.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Poland ends gas procurement from Gazprom by 2022

Polish State energy company PGNiG announced that it will allow the gas procurement contract with Gazprom to expire by the end of the year 2022.

Instead PGNiG concluded agreements for LNG with USA, Qatar and Norway and will develop the LNG-terminal in Świnoujście.

It also entered in a partnership with Denmark and develop a pipeline, the "Baltic Pipe" to obtain gas from Norway.

See more information here:


Monday, November 18, 2019

New York Times Opinion: Nuclear power can save the world

Another plea for nuclear in an april opinion piece of the New York Times:

"All this, however, depends on overcoming an irrational dread among the public and many activists. The reality is that nuclear power is the safest form of energy humanity has ever used. Mining accidents, hydroelectric dam failures, natural gas explosions and oil train crashes all kill people, sometimes in large numbers, and smoke from coal-burning kills them in enormous numbers, more than half a million per year.
By contrast, in 60 years of nuclear power, only three accidents have raised public alarm: Three Mile Island in 1979, which killed no one; Fukushima in 2011, which killed no one (many deaths resulted from the tsunami and some from a panicked evacuation near the plant); and Chernobyl in 1986, the result of extraordinary Soviet bungling, which killed 31 in the accident and perhaps several thousand from cancer, around the same number killed by coal emissions every day. (Even if we accepted recent claims that Soviet and international authorities covered up tens of thousands of Chernobyl deaths, the death toll from 60 years of nuclear power would still equal about one month of coal-related deaths.)"

 You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:


Friday, November 15, 2019

German parliament adopts controversial law on Nord Stream 2

The Bundestag has finally adopted the bill that implements the EU gas directive into german law.
This bill was contentious because it grants an exception to the stipulation of the EU gas directive according to which gas supplier and pipeline operator have to be separated which is not the case of Nord Stream 2, since both supplier and pipeline operator are under control of russian state owned enterprise Gazprom.

After a failed attempt to vote the bill last week, the parliament finally gathered the neccessary quorum.
Only the Green party (Die Grünen) opposed the vote.

More information in the below article:

Friday, November 8, 2019

Vote of controversial Nord-Stream-2-bill failed

The vote on a bill that would allow exceptions for controversial gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 from conisting EU law failed due to the fact that german parliament, the Bundestag, couldn't gather the necessary quorum to do so.

Interestingly enough the initiative to abort the vote emanated from the party AfD close to the Kremlin.

The attempt of the AfD-lawmakers is not only to thwart the bill but the EU-gas-directive itself with the aim to pave the way to a rapid completion of the pipeline.
The curious reasoning of the AfD is that the EU gas directive is infringing EU law. From the point of view of the AfD the EU is only competent for the European Single Market, not for pipelines from third-party states that dock on the national territory of a EU-member-state.

The vote is rescheduled to a date in approximately two weeks.

See more information here:


Thursday, November 7, 2019

Klaus Humpich: future scope of application for LNG

German engineer Klaus Humpich aka NukeKlaus explains the effects of the shale boom in the US the option to replace coal plants.
He focuses especially on the transport of LNG via railroad cars model DOT-113:

"Ein solcher Kryotankwagen ist nach dem Prinzip der Thermosflasche gebaut. Der eigentlich Tank besteht aus mind. 5 mm starkem Edelstahl (Type 304 oder 304L stainless steel nach ASTM A240/A240M gefertigt). Edelstahl ist notwendig, da normaler Stahl nicht die tiefe Temperatur von -162,2 °C aushält (Versprödung). Die äußere Hülle besteht aus mind. 11 mm dickem Kohlenstoffstahl. Sie ist die eigentliche Schutzhülle bei Unfällen. Zwischen beiden Hüllen besteht Vakuum und eine zusätzliche Isolierung gegen Strahlung (Mylar). Die Isolierung muß so gut sein, daß der tägliche Druckanstieg nur 3 psig (0,2 bar) beträgt. Der Tankwagen muß mindestens 45 Tage unterwegs sein können, bevor er beginnt Gas abzublasen. Er ist also während des Transports hermetisch abgeschlossen und es gelangt kein Erdgas in die Umgebung. Um dies zu erreichen, dürfen die Tankwagen nur mit 32, 5 Gewichtsprozenten beladen werden und bei Transportbeginn höchstens einen Druck von maximal 15 psig (1,034 bar) aufweisen. Der Trick, mit der unvermeidlich von außen eindringenden Wärme fertig zu werden, besteht also darin, stets im Nassdampfgebiet zu verbleiben. Es verdampft beständig eine entsprechende Menge des flüssigen Erdgases – wodurch dieses sich selbst kühlt – und steigt als Dampf in den Gasraum oberhalb der Flüssigkeit auf. Dadurch steigt natürlich der Druck im Behälter an. Um ein platzen zu verhindern, verfügt der Tankwagen über mehrere Sicherheitsventile, die gegebenenfalls den Druck kontrolliert abbauen. Dies geschieht schon bei etwa der Hälfte des Berstdruckes für den inneren Behälter. Bei der äußeren Hülle ist das Auslegungskriterium ein Mindestdruck von 2,6 bar gegen das Einbeulen (Vakuum im Zwischenraum)."
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

German government tricks in order to get Nord Stream 2 going

German newspaper Bild has obtained drafts of a federal bill that significantly softens the requirements of EU law on the permit for natural gas pipeline Nord Stream 2.

The provisions of the EU gas directive stipulate that a third-state (i.e. a non-EU-state) pipeline-operator cannot be simultaneously the gas supplier.

The only exception to this rule applies to pipelines that have been completed before May 23rd 2019.

However Nord Stream 2 is not yet completed (even though the last obstacle has been removed with danish energy authority giving approval to the transition of the pipelin through Denmark's exclusive economic zone) and won't be before 2020.
Thus, the exception of the EU gas directive does not apply to Nord Stream 2. In consequence with public corporation Gaszprom as gas supplier and pipeline operator Nord Stream 2 AG under control of Gazprom, the controversial pipeline could not be powered up.

Nevertheless german government tries to override those rules in order to get Nord Stream 2 going.

The text of the bill softens the requirement of "completion before May 23rd 2019" to the "accomplishement of major investments transacted before May 23rd 2019". The 2 Bn EUR invested by german companies in this project apparently turned the balance.

The government of Angela Merkel has scheduled the vote of this bill on Friday morning, 2:25 a.m.

According to information by Bild, the EU-Commission views this bill as a violation of the EU gas directive and has announced a possible veto against this exception for Nord Stream 2, should the bill be adopted.

Monday, November 4, 2019

How to react on the impending completion of Nord Stream 2

The Atlantic Council has asked four energy experts about their opinion on what are the sensible reactions to the imminent completion of natural gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 after the last obstacle has been cleared.

Olga Khakova, associate director for European energy security at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center has a useful approach:

"This is a critical moment for the European Commission to flex its enforcement muscles and ensure that Nord Stream 2 fully complies with the amended gas directive, which expands European Union rules to cover offshore pipelines from third-party countries entering the union. The EU law (the Third Energy Package) entails pipeline and gas ownership unbundling, third-party access to the pipeline, and transparent, nondiscriminatory price tariffs.  If the Commission fully implements the rules, Gazprom would have to make substantial changes to comply with the amendment, which will lead to further project delays. Having to operate under transparent and competitive EU market rules weakens Gazprom’s ability to use energy as a geopolitical lever."

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Denmark approves construction of last segment of Nord Stream 2

The approval is the go-ahead for the last step to completion of Nord Stream 2. After long refusal the danish energy authority has given approval to the construction in the country's exclusive economic zone. It was the last permit that the consortium had to obtain in order to complete the pipeline.

"Die dänische Energiebehörde hat den Bau der Gaspipeline Nord Stream 2 von Russland nach Deutschland genehmigt. Das teilte die Behörde am Mittwoch in Kopenhagen mit. Es war die letzte noch ausstehende Genehmigung für die Fertigstellung der Pipeline."
See more information in the below article:



Simon Kuper: green growthers are deceiving theirselves

In an article in the Financial Times, Simon Kuper discounts the concept of "green growth" as starry-eyed. According to him, "we can be green or we can have growth, but we can't have both together".

"Economic growth, democracy and CO2 have always been intertwined. Growth and democracy barely existed until coal fuelled the industrial revolution. Can democracy survive without carbon? We are not going to find out. No electorate will vote to decimate its own lifestyle. We can’t blame bad politicians or corporates. It’s us: we will always choose growth over climate."

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link: