Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Nord Stream 2: 18 companies draw back due to impending US-sanctions

 German newspaper WELT writes:

The USA's threats of sanctions against the German-Russian Baltic Sea gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 are having an effect: After considerable pressure from the government in Washington, at least 18 European companies have now ended their participation in the controversial project or have promised to withdraw, as stated in a report by the US State Department to Congress. According to the information, the companies include the industrial service provider Bilfinger from Mannheim and the Munich Re insurer Munich Re Syndicate Limited.

So far, the United States has only imposed sanctions on the Russian company KVT-RUS, which operates the Fortuna laying ship, because of Nord Stream 2 - the government of the Republican US President Donald Trump announced these punitive measures shortly before the end of her term in January. The company and the ship are also specifically mentioned in the new report. Contrary to expectations, other companies are not punished or threatened with punitive measures.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Nord Stream 2: are stakeholders backing away?

 Asked by german newspaper BILD on it's opinion about the crackdown on protesters in Russia and the future of Nord Stream 2, the oil and gas producer Wintershall gave sibylline answer that that might be understood as a subtle sign of alienation:

The situation in Russia is escalating. And in the Baltic Sea, the Nord Stream 2 gas project is continuing unmoved. But in view of the serious human rights violations by the regime of Vladimir Putin, at least one German partner of "Nord Stream 2 AG" now seems to have moral concerns about the progress of the Russian billion-dollar project.

The Kassel-based company Wintershall Dea responded unusually openly to a BILD request on Monday and sent an answer that is deeply insightful.

BILD asked Wintershall Dea: In view of the brutal crackdown on the democracy protests in Russia, is your company's cooperation with the state-controlled "Nord Stream 2 AG" still compatible with your corporate principles?

The answer: “We are watching the current developments in Russia with concern. Here, however, politicians in Berlin and Brussels have to decide how to behave and what measures they want to take if necessary. "

A bombshell: Chancellor Merkel emphasizes again and again that Nord Stream 2 is “an entrepreneurial project” and that the Navalny case and its consequences in Russia must be “discussed separately”.

At Wintershall Dea, which has invested several hundred million euros in Nord Stream 2, the view is obviously different - but it plays the ball back where it belongs: with the German government and the European Union.

▶ ︎ In addition, the company stated that it would not provide the Russians with any more money - although construction has been delayed for over a year and costs are rising steadily.

A company spokesman on BILD: "Wintershall Dea has paid out 730 million euros for the project, further payments are not planned."

According to BILD information, the company also wants to avoid imminent sanctions by the USA. It informed the United States Embassy in Germany about its funding stop last year.

In principle, however, the construction of the pipeline continues to be seen as justified.

Wintershall Dea told BILD that “against the background of the expected decline in the production of natural gas in Europe, the Nord Stream 2 project is a contribution to competitiveness” and could “strengthen Europe's energy security”.

However, the company admitted that the pipeline was only "one of the many solutions to the impending supply gap and one offer - without any obligation to purchase natural gas from the pipeline".

Monday, February 1, 2021

Nord Stream 2: France calls for construction freeze

In the face of the arrest and detention of Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny and the brutal crackdown on protesters on past week-end, France calls for a suspension of the building work on contentious gas pipeline Nord Stream 2, writes german newspaper WELT

In the light of the arrest of the Russian opposition politician Alexej Navalny and the action against his supporters, France supports the stop of the Nord Stream 2 gas project. France's European Secretary of State Clément Beaune said on Monday on France Inter when asked whether he was in favor of giving up Nord Stream 2 : "Indeed, we have already said that."

Beaune said that sanctions had already been imposed, but that was not enough. Regarding other possible consequences, he added that the Baltic Sea pipeline was an option to consider. "We have always said that in this context we have the greatest doubts about this project."

In addition to France, other EU countries are rejecting the natural gas project. The European Parliament recently voted for an immediate stop to Nord Stream 2. The federal government, however, is sticking to the gas pipeline.

According to the Russian energy company Gazprom, the main investor in Nord Stream 2, 94 percent of the line has already been completed. It consists of two strings, each around 1,230 kilometers long, and is expected to be able to transport 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Russia to Germany per year.

Human rights activists in Russia criticized the mass arrests at rallies for Kremlin critic Navalny as unprecedented. In at least 87 cities, more than 5100 demonstrators were in police custody, reported the Owd-Info portal on Monday night. There have never been so many arrests since the organization was founded a good nine years ago. The activists help arrested demonstrators and publish statistics.

The human rights activists also complained about "disproportionately brutal action" by the security forces against peaceful demonstrators. More than 50 people were beaten when they were arrested. More than 90 journalists were arrested in 31 cities in Russia. "The police deliberately interfered with the work of the press that wanted to cover the protests," it said.

On Sunday there were demonstrations in more than 100 cities for the release of Navalny and against corruption and arbitrary justice. All of the actions were not approved. Arrest could result in a fine or imprisonment. More than a week ago, there were around 4,000 arrests during mass protests in Russia, according to human rights activists. The authorities did not comment on these numbers.

Navalny had been arrested at a Moscow airport just over two weeks ago on his return from Germany, where he had been recovering from a poison attack for five months. The 44-year-old blames President Vladimir Putin and the domestic secret service FSB for the crime. Putin and the FSB rejected that.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

EU: second IPCEI for project "European Battery Innovation"

The Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a second Important Project of Common European Interest (“IPCEI”) to support research and innovation in the battery value chain. The project, called “European Battery Innovation” was jointly prepared and notified by Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.

The twelve Member States will provide up to €2.9 billion in funding in the coming years. The public funding is expected to unlock an additional €9 billion in private investments, i.e. more than three times the public support. The project complements the first IPCEI in the battery value chain that the Commission approved in December 2019.


The project will cover the entire battery value chain from extraction of raw materials, design and manufacturing of battery cells and packs, and finally the recycling and disposal in a circular economy, with a strong focus on sustainability. It is expected to contribute to the development of a whole set of new technological breakthroughs, including different cell chemistries and novel production processes, and other innovations in the battery value chain, in addition to what will be achieved thanks to the first battery IPCEI.

Read more.

Source: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_21_226

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Gloomy outlook for shale oile

For oil analysts and advisers Goehring & Rozencwajg the prospects for oil and especially shale oil will be murky in the forseeable future:

We believe we are on the cusp of a global energy crisis. Like most crises, the fundamental causes for this crisis have been brewing for several years but have lacked a catalyst to bring them to the attention of the public or to the average investor. The looming energy crisis is rooted in the underlying depletion of the US shales along with the chronic disappointments in non-OPEC supply in the rest of the world. The catalyst is the coronavirus.

The initial phase of the crisis that took prices negative is behind us and the next phase which, should take prices much higher, is in its infancy. Global energy markets in general, and oil markets in particular, are slipping into a structural deficit as we speak. We believe energy will be the most important investment theme of the next several years and the biggest unintended consequence of the coronavirus.


Investors’ focus has shifted to how quickly supply can be brought back to meet recovering demand. While most investors believe the lost production will be easily brought back online, our models tell us something vastly different. While OPEC+ production will likely rebound, non-OPEC+ supply will be extremely challenged. Instead of recovering, our models tell us that non-OPEC+ production is about to decline dramatically from today’s already low levels.


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


Monday, January 25, 2021

US: Natural Gas Drives Energy Costs to Record Lows

Source Reason

The Business Council for Sustainable Energy and Bloomberg's New Energy Finance have recently released their 2017 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, which looks, among other things, at the benefits of rising natural gas use across the United States. According to the report, Americans now devote less than four percent of their total annual household spending to energy—the lowest since government record-keeping begun. That welcome development is, in part, a result of the fracking revolution and of the declining prices of natural gas.

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


EU: EU lawmakers call for halt to Nord Stream 2 after Navalny arrest

Source Reuters: 

European Union lawmakers passed a resolution on Thursday calling for the bloc to stop the completion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to take Russian natural gas to Europe, in response to the arrest of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Navalny, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic, was detained at the weekend and later jailed for alleged parole violations after flying back to Russia for the first time since being poisoned by a military grade nerve agent.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has continued to back the pipeline between Germany and Russia despite criticism elsewhere in the EU, said on Thursday her view of the project had not changed despite the Navalny case.

Lawmakers in the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to block the pipeline construction work, with 581 votes in favour, 50 against and 44 abstentions, calling on the EU to review relations with Russia in light of Navalny’s arrest.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Nord Stream 2: US-sanctions take effect, major companies back out

 The sanctions that have been announced by the US government since more than one year are becoming effective today. In response to this, several major corporations withdraw from the collaboration with companies associated with the contentious pipeline Nord Stream 2. Among them: german construction company Bilfinger SE, insurance group Zurich and norvegian classification company DNV-GL.

Source BILD:

Shock for the supporters of the Putin pipeline Nord Stream 2!

According to BILD information, the first German company recently withdrew from the construction of the controversial pipeline. This emerges from letters from the company that BILD was able to see. The reason is the fear of US sanctions, which could have hit the company in just a few weeks.

The company is none other than the listed Mannheim industrial service provider "Bilfinger SE" - SDAX-affiliated with annual sales of a whopping 4.3 billion euros in 2019.

Bilfinger had signed several contracts with “Nord Stream 2 AG”. Among other things “for the development, delivery and commissioning of the process control and safety systems for the operation of the pipeline”. Order volume: 15 million euros.

In addition, Bilfinger signed a contract with the Russians for “the engineering, delivery, installation and commissioning of a 90 MW + 30 MW reserve natural gas-fired heat generation plant” at the German landing point of the pipeline in Lubmin.

In two letters - an announcement from December and a confirmation last week - Bilfinger had informed the USA that it would comply with the provisions of the "Protection of the European Energy Security Act" (PEESCA) and that all partnerships and contracts with Nord Stream 2 quit.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Nord Stream 2: Federal authority grants permission, construction continues

 Federal authority for maritime navigation has granted the permit to resume construction works on contentions Nord Stream 2-pipeline.

Source BILD:

The Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) has approved the immediate construction of the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas pipeline in German waters. That emerges from a communication from the authority on Friday.

The previous permit would normally not have allowed work to start until the end of May. A contradiction - for example from environmental associations - could stop the immediate further construction in the German “Exclusive Economic Zone” (EEZ), as it would have a suspensive effect.

The "Deutsche Umwelthilfe" has already announced further legal remedies, wants an urgent procedure.

The approval had become necessary, among other things, because a Swiss company withdrew its special ships at the end of 2019 following sanctions from the USA. A permit had already been issued for these ships for the winter months.

However, after the Swiss exit, Nord Stream 2 had to switch to a type of ship that is held or moved by other ships. The permit that has now been issued applies to such an anchor-positioned ship.

One such ship, the Russian "Fortuna", left the port of Wismar on Thursday and was on the Baltic Sea off Rostock on Friday morning, according to the vesselfinder.com ship radar.

► As of Friday, the Danish authorities had announced that they would be working in the Baltic Sea near Bornholm with the participation of "Fortuna". After reaching the position in Danish waters, preparatory work and tests would begin, according to Nord Stream 2. It was not yet possible to give an exact time.

► Last December, after a year-long break in laying work, the ship completed a 2.6-kilometer section of the line in the German EEZ. At the end of December, however, the approval of the BSH expired after an extension was used.

According to the Russian energy company Gazprom as the main investor, 94 percent of the controversial pipeline has been completed. This means that more than 2,300 kilometers of double-strand pipes lie on the sea floor. About 150 kilometers are still missing, i.e. 75 kilometers per strand - of which about 120 kilometers in Danish and about 30 kilometers in German waters.

The approval of the BSH, which has now been granted, is about these around 30 kilometers south of the Danish island of Bornholm. The remaining route ran through the edge of a bird sanctuary, it was said. However, due to the depth of the water, this has "rather little significance for certain species of resting birds".

In addition, it is partly a frequently traveled area anyway. Nevertheless, to protect seabirds, the BSH stipulates a maximum construction phase of 30 days with 14-day breaks for the period from January to May.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Nord Stream 2: harsh criticism of fake foundation

 New details about the financing of the fake environmental foundation in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern emerged. The russian bankrollers want to control the important decisions of the foundation. Geman politicians fustigate this blatant case of "political corruption".

Source BILD:

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania's head of government Manuela Schwesig (46, SPD) wants to promote environmental protection with her new state foundation. But in reality it is a Russian-controlled organization that wants to promote the construction of the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline!

► Because now it comes out: The “Foundation for Climate and Environmental Protection MV”, decided by Schwesig's government last week, is not only financed with 20 million euros (99 percent) by Russians - the business that is to be founded is also under the control of the Russian gas company Gazprom.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Gazprom: many fires to fight

As the future of sanction-impacted pipeline Nord Stream 2 lies in the dark, Gazpromy faces problems on china-bound pipelines and struggles with low gas prices and liabilities, writes german newspaper WELT:

Just a few years ago, nobody at the Russian gas giant Gazprom suspected that a ship laying pipelines could become a symbol of the risk and instability of entrepreneurial success. “Fortuna” - the term used by the ancient Romans for the changeable fate - is the name of the Russian barge that is supposed to complete the controversial Baltic Sea gas pipeline Nord Stream 2.

It remains to be seen whether he will ultimately be able to build the 100 or more kilometers of pipeline that are still missing. On December 28, the ship completed the 2.6-kilometer section in German waters. In the middle of January the plan is to continue in Danish waters.

But the US, which had been hindering the work with threatened sanctions for the whole of last year, has prepared further sanctions so that Gazprom's European allies can stop the project. Europe would become too dependent on Russian gas, they say in Washington. The US also wants to sell its own gas in Europe.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Nord Stream 2: turmoil over fake climate and environmental foundation in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

As reported, the government of the Land Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has created a foundation with the aim to ensure the completion of the contentious gas pipeline.

This draws heavy political criticism along the line of arguments that the purportedly environmental foundation has nothing to do with the preservation of nature but is only a front organsation almost entirely financed by russian money.

Source BILD

The warm rain from Saint Petersburg is followed by the cold shower of criticism from Germany.

The Schwerin state parliament passed a resolution on Thursday - without dissenting votes! - the establishment of a "Foundation for Climate and Environmental Protection MV". But the flowery-sounding name Foundation is supposed to wrap in cotton wool which goal the foundation is primarily pursuing: avoiding sanctions for companies involved in the construction of the Russian pipeline Nord Stream 2!

Politicians, environmental associations and representatives of civil society are shocked at the bold trick the state government of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, led by Manuela Schwesig (SPD), is using to push ahead with its gas deal.

INCREDIBLE: The “non-profit” and “state owned” foundation is 99 percent financed by the Russian state gas giant Gazprom. Schwesig's “Umweltstiftung” donated 20 million euros through its sole subsidiary, “Nord Stream 2 AG”. There is only 200,000 euros in foundation capital from the state budget.

According to its own statements, the state government plans "to set up a commercial business in the foundation with the aim of contributing to the progress of work on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline".

In plain language: All business of the pipeline partners should run through the state foundation, because it cannot fall under US sanctions - although the money for it comes from Russia.

Shock waves in Berlin: “With 20 million euros in start-up capital from Gazprom, the SPD-led state government de facto let itself be bought. Manuela Schwesig is following in the footsteps of former Chancellor and Putin friend Gerhard Schröder, ”said FDP foreign policy expert Renata Alt to BILD.

According to Alt, the decision of the state parliament of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania to set up a foundation for “climate and environmental protection” is “hard to beat in terms of hypocrisy and hypocrisy”. In addition to Russian assets, German taxpayers' money would be used here "to circumvent the US sanctions against Nord Stream 2".

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Nord Stream 2: german fake foundation receives 20 M from russian corporation

 Source BILD

It is a so far unique process that took place today in the state parliament of Schwerin.

With the votes of the CDU, SPD and Left and with the silent approval (abstention, but support) of the AfD, Manuela Schwesig's government has set up a “Foundation for Climate and Environmental Protection MV”. The only real reason, as BILD reported yesterday: to provide companies involved in the construction of the Putin Nord Stream 2 pipeline with a state protective shield against the threat of US sanctions.

Or as Schwesig's government put it in the state government's application at BILD: The aim is "to establish an economic business in the foundation with the aim of making a contribution to the progress of the work on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline".

Today the state government of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania announced how the foundation's assets will be composed at the start of the alleged environmental foundation. “On the part of the state, 200,000 euros are to flow into the foundation capital,” announced the government.

Then the Russian hammer! The state government stated: "Nord Stream 2 AG has agreed to contribute 20 million euros to the foundation's assets."

Nord Stream 2: German PM creates foundation in order to circumvent sanctions

German newspaper BILD has the details:

The state government of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, led by Manuela Schwesig (SPD), will stretch a state protective umbrella over German companies involved in the Putin Nord Stream 2 pipeline this week to protect them from the threat of US sanctions.

This is according to confidential documents obtained by BILD.

According to the documents, there will be a special cabinet meeting today, Wednesday, in which the red-black government will agree on the establishment of a "Stiftung Klimaschutz MV" (Climate Protection Foundation MV). Just 24 hours later, the state parliament is to wave through the establishment of the foundation in a special session (actually on the current Corona situation). With resistance of the similarly Russia-friendly opposition from AfD and left is not to be counted thereby, so an Insider to BILD.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

EU: discord over hydrogen strategy

Concerning the EU's important project of common European interses (IPCEI) in hydrogen, five member-states (Austria, Denmark, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain) want to make clear that they will only support this project if it the hydron is produced by renewable energies, not by natural gas or nuclear, writes Euractiv:

EU member states have squabbled over the past weeks about which type of hydrogen to support, with two opposing camps facing off: those backing green hydrogen produced exclusively from renewable electricity, and those in favour of a broader “low-carbon” definition, which also includes nuclear power and decarbonised gases.

Supporters of “blue” hydrogen say natural gas will be needed in the short term to ramp up production volumes and grow the EU’s hydrogen market, which is currently tiny.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition chief, sought to clarify the Commission’s approach, saying regulatory support will be targeted only for projects that can make a significant contribution to the EU’s long-term climate goals.

“Developing technologies for low-carbon and, in particular, green hydrogen, and building the necessary infrastructure for its deployment, will take us one step closer to making Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050,” she said in a speech at the launch event.

IPCEIs were set up in 2014 and allow EU member states to subsidise high-risk cross-border research and innovation, as well as infrastructure projects, without having to observe the EU’s normally strict state aid rules.

“No member state or business can do this alone,” Vestager stressed. “That’s why it makes sense for European governments to come together to support such important projects of common European interest, if the market alone would not take the risk. And it is why we have put special state aid rules in place to smooth the way.”

But the five EU countries are worried that the new hydrogen IPCEI will be used to support “low-carbon” hydrogen made from natural gas or nuclear power.

They say they signed up to the manifesto – but only “with the understanding that this initiative should exclusively refer to hydrogen from renewable energy sources since we consider this technology as the only long-term sustainable solution to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.”

“Projects within an IPCEI must respect the principle of the phasing out of environmental harmful subsidies,” the signatories of the letter wrote. “Therefore, an IPCEI on hydrogen must only be eligible when produced from renewable sources, where a clear market gap is identified,” the letter said.