Monday, September 20, 2021

Nord Stream 2: is Gazprom blackmailing Germany with gas price?

As previously reported, experts warned for years  that Gazprom could use its dominant position as a gas supplier to blackmail Germany and other european states. 

According to expertes, this is what is happening right now. Now that the pipeline is fully constructed, there is still an operating license pending and the question of conformity with EU laws is unsolved before the pipeline is ready-to-use. However Gazprom presses forward to get the pipeline operational as soon as possible and points to hiking gas prices writes german newspaper BILD:

Bad news from Moscow for German gas customers!

A few days after the completion of the Russian Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 2, it becomes clear: Russian President Vladimir Putin is using the pipe precisely for what experts have warned about for years. He blackmailed Germany and Europe. Anyone who does not play according to the rules of the state company Gazprom pays heavily or even has to freeze in winter.

First comeuppance: the price for Russian natural gas in Europe has already risen by a staggering 444 percent in the last twelve months.

A price increase that experts attribute to a large extent to the artificial reduction in imports by Russia's state-owned company Gazprom.

Explosive: Germany is more dependent on Russian gas than ever before. 55 percent of the natural gas burned in this country comes from Putin's empire.

Bad news from Moscow for German gas customers!

A few days after the completion of the Russian Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 2, it becomes clear: Russian President Vladimir Putin is using the tube for exactly what experts have warned about for years. He blackmailed Germany and Europe. Anyone who does not play according to the rules of the state company Gazprom pays heavily or even has to freeze in winter.

First receipt: the price for Russian natural gas in Europe has already risen by a staggering 444 percent in the past twelve months.

A price increase that experts attribute in large part to the artificial reduction in imports by Russia's state-owned company Gazprom.

Explosive: Germany is more dependent on Russian gas than ever before. 55 percent of the natural gas burned in this country comes from Putin's empire.

Russia's gas giant Gazprom has not only reduced transit to Europe to a contractually agreed minimum through Ukraine - since the summer, significantly less gas has been flowing through the Yamal gas pipeline to Germany via Poland than would be necessary to ensure medium-term supply.

The result: Germany's natural gas storage facilities are currently only 63 percent full. Last year at this time it was 94 percent.

In addition, in July, for the first time in the history of the Yamal pipeline, Gazprom no longer took part in the auction of transport capacities for the next few years.

That is why experts warned in the summer that Gazprom would make Germany’s further inexpensive gas supply dependent on the commissioning of the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea tube. And that although the pipeline does not currently meet the requirements of the EU and therefore has neither a certification by the Federal Network Agency nor a permit to start operations by the authorities in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

A horror scenario that came true this week.

Nobody less than Putin spokesman Dmitri Peskow now declared in Moscow: "Of course, the fastest possible commissioning of Nord Stream 2 will largely offset the natural gas prices in Europe."

To put it plainly: If Nord Stream 2 still does not go online after its completion because the Russians do not want to submit to European gas directives, the price for gas will continue to rise dramatically in our country.

Experts fear that too.

It is possible "that Russia and Gazprom are strategically and deliberately restricting exports to Europe (...) in order to influence and accelerate the decision-making process of the German and European authorities regarding the certification of Nord Stream 2", says Tom Marzec-Manser , leading gas expert at ICIS, opposite the "Tagesspiegel".

The US energy expert and senior researcher at the Center for European Policy Analyzes (CEPA) Benjamin Schmitt emphasizes that “Gazprom's undersupply of European gas storage facilities over existing routes such as Ukraine and Poland has contributed to the market pressure in recent months we see today ”.

Schmitt told BILD that leading experts in the field agreed that "the Kremlin will use the situation to force the EU to quickly certify Nord Stream 2". Meanwhile, according to gas expert Schmitt, Russian officials are also saying out loud "that a quick approval of Nord Stream 2 later this year could alleviate a potential energy crisis".

This also means: If Nord Stream 2 does not go live on time according to Moscow's terms, there could be serious - planned - delivery bottlenecks in the coming winter.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Nord Stream 2: possible geostrategic impacts

In an essay french researcher Loic Simonet explains the possible consequences of the now  - at least constructionally - completet pipeline Nord Stream 2. Via Le Monde:

On September 6, the last tube of Nord Stream 2 was submerged in the waters of the Baltic Sea. This pipeline crosses the sea areas of Finland, Sweden and Denmark for 1,200 km, between the Russian coast and Germany. Its two pipes will, from the fall, deliver an additional 55 billion cubic meters of Russian gas per year (or half of German consumption) to Western Europe.

Rarely has a “commercial project”, as its promoters continue to call it, been so politicized. Having become the stake of a pitched battle between Germany and a "sling of losers" supported by the United States - anxious to avoid the marginalization of Ukraine as a transit corridor for Russian gas -, Nord Stream 2 was a formidable test for the European Union and its ability to speak with one voice. Described in 2016 by Joe Biden as a "bad deal for Europe," a scapegoat for the US Congress, the "Putin pipeline" has driven a wedge between NATO allies.

The compromise reached by the United States and Germany on July 21 is, of course, part of the new president's promise to reconnect with Europe and rebuild transatlantic relations degraded by his predecessor. In the crosshairs may also be Chinese pressure and the urgency to rally the political forces of the western camp, shaken by the handling of the Afghan crisis. By lifting the restrictions that had hung over the project since 2019 and allowing its completion, Biden also appears to have realized the counterproductive impact of US extraterritorial sanctions and their stimulating effect on European thinking on resilience. However, the Nord Stream 2 affair will leave deep resentments on both sides, as the EU and NATO each reflect on their strategic positioning.

The words of Radek Sikorski, former Polish defense minister, comparing Nord Stream to the German-Soviet pact of 1939, reveal the frustration of the central and eastern European states most exposed to the Russian threat and to possible ruptures. energy supply. The complaints received by the European Commission and the "betrayal" of Poland, which has openly called on the United States to extend its sanctions against Russia to Nord Stream 2, have cast a harsh light on the differences between the Twenty-Seven. with regard to the latter and, ipso facto, Ukraine in the post-2014 context. They restored a dividing line between old and new Europeans.

The United States is engulfed in the breach, engaging in a real interference against the project, not without provoking a sharp repartee of the German authorities, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas: "Questions of energy policy European Union must be discussed in Europe, not in the United States. As for the European Commission, by publicly expressing its lack of attraction for the second line of the Baltic gas pipeline, it has been accused of using the energy argument for geopolitical ends, thus turning against it. - even his criticisms of Russia. A few years after the calamitous stagnation of the Nabucco gas pipeline project, the positions taken by Brussels on Nord Stream 2 have once again accredited the vision of a Europe that is prolix in grandiloquent but ineffective statements.

Across a space that separates a rapidly expanding NATO area and a Russia that has restored its power without taking gloves, against the backdrop of the Ukrainian crisis and the deployment of Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, fears are strong that Nord Stream 2 will serve as a vector for political or economic countermeasures. Former Senator Richard Lugar, influential chairman of the US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed concern over the consequences of European energy dependence on the cohesion of the Atlantic Alliance. This is also the question that Donald Trump raised on May 17, 2018, when he received NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House; and it was one of his allies that the former US president violently attacked, accusing Germany of being "totally in control" and "a prisoner" of Russia.

The negotiations opened in 1980 by Germany and France with the Soviet Union, with a view to increasing supplies to the immense Urengoy gas field, had led to the "affair" of the Euro-Siberian gas pipeline, l one of the most serious crises that transatlantic relations have known since 1945. The parallel between this historic episode and the Nord Stream 2 controversy is instructive.

Same leading role of Germany, eager to integrate the USSR into a system of cooperation; same jealous reaction from the Americans; the same biased debate on European dependence and its politico-strategic consequences; same vision opposed on both sides of the Atlantic, Europe favoring the economic relationship and the diversification of its supplies, without realizing the politicization of the issue in America, considered from the angle of security; the same temptation, on the Russian side, to play with the differences between allies; same poisoned international context (invasion of Afghanistan, martial law in Poland) affecting an essentially commercial project.

A few years later, an obscure journalist named Antony Blinken published a geopolitical book titled Ally Versus Ally: America, Europe, and the Siberian Pipeline Crisis (Praeger Publishers Inc, 1987). The author urged America and its allies not to allow "peaceful and non-strategic" trade ties with the Eastern Bloc to become a bone of contention. In November, the Twenty-Seven will discuss the first draft of the "strategic compass" which the EU intends to adopt. A few months later, at the Alliance summit in Spain, NATO is expected to endorse its new strategic concept. Hopefully the message from the new US Secretary of State, whose hand behind the July 21 accord, will not be forgotten, including on this side of the Atlantic.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Nord Stream 2: pipeline completed

 The final tube of the contested pipeline has been fixed. A certification by german authorities is required before commissioning. Read the reporting of german newspaper WELT:

The Russian energy company Gazprom has announced the completion of the controversial German-Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream 2. On Friday morning at 8.45 a.m. Moscow time (7.45 a.m. CEST), the construction of Nord Stream 2 was completed, Gazprom boss Alexej Miller told the Tass state agency. The last pipe was laid on September 6th. After that, individual sections of the line would have to be connected to one another; this work has now been completed, it said.

Friday, September 3, 2021

ECJ: Germany Federal Network Agency must obtain more independence

 In a groundbreaking decision, the European Court of Justice ruled that the german Federal Networg Agency (Bundesnetzagentur) must gain more independence from political directions of the german government. A verdict with far-reaching consequences writes WELT:

Who is allowed to use the electricity and gas lines and when? How much are the transfer fees? How strong and where are the networks being expanded? In Germany, the Federal Network Agency regulates these questions, which are crucial for the energy transition and the supply of German citizens - but not alone.

Politicians had given themselves a say in Paragraph 24 of the Energy Industry Act: Whatever the Bonn regulatory authority decides, has followed strict government guidelines and regulations ever since. But that's over now.

In a groundbreaking ruling, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the Federal Network Agency's lack of political independence violates European law. The Luxembourg judges found that the authority must be able to make decisions completely free of federal requirements.

This is the only way to ensure that the authority's decisions are "impartial and non-discriminatory, which precludes the possibility of preferential treatment of companies and economic interests associated with the government, the majority or at least political power." , which accused the federal government of inadequate implementation of European law in a total of four cases.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Nuclear fusion: "Historical progess" in US lab

Source Le Monde:  

“A historic breakthrough. A US public laboratory on Tuesday (August 17th) congratulated itself on having produced more energy through nuclear fusion than ever before.

The experiment, which took place Aug. 8 at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in Calif., "Was enabled by the concentration of laser light," no less than 192, "on a target the size of a lead "of hunting, explains a press release. This had the effect of "producing a hot spot the diameter of a hair, generating more than ten quadrillion watts through fusion, for 100 trillionth of a second. "That's eight times more energy than in the last experiments carried out in the spring.

Nuclear fusion is considered by its supporters as the energy of tomorrow, in particular because it produces little waste and no greenhouse gases. It differs from fission, a technique used in nuclear power plants today, which involves breaking the bonds of heavy atomic nuclei to recover energy.

Fusion is the reverse process: we “marry” two light atomic nuclei to create a heavy one. In this case two isotopes (atomic variants) of hydrogen, giving rise to helium. It is this process that is at work in the stars, including our Sun.

"This breakthrough puts researchers very close to the ignition threshold," the statement said, when the energy produced exceeds that used to cause the reaction. Preparations are already underway to reproduce this experiment, which will take "several months", reports the press release, which specifies that detailed data will be published in a scientific journal.

“This result is a historic breakthrough for inertial confinement fusion research,” said Kim Budil, director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, on which the NIF depends.

“The NIF teams have done an extraordinary job,” commented Professor Steven Rose, Co-Director of the Center for Research in this area at Imperial College London. "This is the most significant advance in inertial fusion since its inception in 1972."

"Transforming this concept into a renewable source of electrical energy will probably be a long process and will involve overcoming significant technical challenges," however tempered Jeremy Chittenden, co-director of the same center in London.

In France, the international ITER project also aims to control the production of energy from the fusion of hydrogen. Reactor assembly began a year ago in Bouches-du-Rhône.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Nord Stream 2: will Gazprom start blackmail manoeuver to bypass EU regulation?

 While an agreement on the completion of the contentious pipeline has been found some energy and geopolitical observers spot ominous signs of suspicious shortening of gas.

While there is no more reasonable doubt about the imminent completion of Nord Stream 2 EU law requires unbundling, meaning: gas producer and pipeline operator must be dissociated. However both, producer and pipeline operator, are ultimately Gazprom-owned.

Experts see foul play of Gazprom to obtain an exemption, writes BILD:

Are millions of Germans threatened by a cold winter because Russia's ruler Vladimir Putin is using his natural gas as a weapon against us?

The dispute over the Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 is escalating dramatically: There are increasing signs that the Kremlin is putting the pistol on Germany's chest so that the pipeline can start operating.

The status today: Nord Stream 2 AG - a wholly owned subsidiary of the Russian state-owned company Gazprom - wants to finish construction work on the tube this month. Shortly afterwards, Gazprom plans to route gas through the pipeline, which is to be delivered primarily to Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic.

Nord Stream 2: Republicans comdemn agreement

 WELT reports:

After giving the green light to the completion of Nord Stream 2, the US government is walking a fine line: Washington argues that the controversial gas pipeline project is a “bad deal” for Ukraine and the rest of Europe.

The small, subtle difference to the previous attitude: one is acting “pragmatically”, and since the construction is almost complete, it is a matter of getting the best out of the Ukraine. It was in this spirit that an understanding was reached with Berlin. Conclusion: Berlin and Washington have not settled their long-standing dispute, the fundamental differences of opinion have not been cleared out of the way. You defused your transatlantic squabbles on your own.

The government of President Joe Biden speaks of “significant differences of opinion” when looking at Nord Stream 2, and of clear opposition to the 1,200-kilometer-long pipe project that is to carry gas from Russia through the Baltic Sea to Lubmin near Greifswald. But when Biden moved into the White House six months ago, 90 percent of the German-Russian pipeline had already been completed, argues Washington. Biden's people are trying to pass the buck to ex-President Donald Trump. He had verbally attacked Nord Stream 2, but was unable to do much against the building. In addition, companies and ships that are involved in the construction have been sanctioned, according to the US government.

So now it's about mitigation. The German-American agreements are intended to help prevent Ukraine from falling victim to the pipeline. Berlin and Washington want to pump money into Ukraine, for example for alternative energies, but above all for greater energy independence from archenemy Russia. A “Green Fund for Ukraine” has been agreed, with at least one billion dollars available for investments. Berlin initially pays in 148 million euros.

Nord Stream 2: USA and Germany reach agreement

After month long negotiations Germany and the US came to a compromise on the approach towards the contentious Nord Stream 2 pipeline. In particular the case of the sanctions against germany companies involved in the construction and the safeguard of Ukraine's interest as a gas transit country.

Read the reporting in german newspaper WELT:

The US and Germany have reached an agreement that allows the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline to be completed without the imposition of new US sanctions. State Secretary Victoria Nuland said this to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US Congress on Wednesday.

Both governments plan to announce details of the agreement shortly. Washington and Berlin have agreed to impose sanctions on Russia and German companies if Moscow should use the pipeline as a political weapon, said the third highest US diplomat.

The federal government had previously expressed confidence that an agreement would soon be reached in the dispute with the USA over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. The financial news agency Bloomberg and the "Wall Street Journal" had reported, citing sources in Berlin and Washington, that an agreement had been reached.
In the agreement, Germany promises Ukraine additional financial aid of a good 200 million euros. Berlin wants to fund bilateral energy projects in Ukraine with around 70 million euros, especially in the field of renewable energies and energy efficiency, as stated in the agreement published on Wednesday.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

OPAL: Germany loses appeal; possible repercussions on Nord Stream 2

 As well known, Germany has lodged an appeal against the EUGC decision concerning the quantity of gas passed through the OPAL pipeline. The ECJ rejected this appeal

Handelsblatt writes:

In the dispute over the expansion of Russian gas supplies, Germany suffered a defeat before the European Court of Justice (ECJ). In a judgment published on Thursday, the ECJ rejected Germany's appeal against a decision by the EU court. Specifically, it is about larger delivery volumes through the Opal pipeline, an extension of the first Nord Stream pipeline in the Baltic Sea, which has been in operation since 2011 and through which Russian gas is transported to Europe (Case C-848/19).

Poland had filed a lawsuit against the larger delivery quantities before the General Court of the European Union (EU-G), arguing that they endangered the country's security of supply and violated the principle of energy solidarity. The court upheld the action, whereupon Germany appealed to the ECJ, which has now been rejected.

In September 2019, Poland had a decision by the EU Commission stopped at first instance, which allowed the Russian Gazprom group to make greater use of the Opal pipeline (case T-883/16). Gazprom was originally only allowed to use half the line capacity in order not to put other suppliers at a disadvantage. With a resolution from 2016, the EU Commission allowed Gazprom to significantly increase delivery volumes at the request of the Federal Network Agency. The ECJ has now confirmed that this decision was rightly declared null and void by the EU-G.

A previously published opinion by the Court of Justice stated that Germany "essentially asserts that energy solidarity is merely a political term and not a legal criterion". Accordingly, no direct rights and obligations could be derived from it.

The supreme court of the EU is now contradicting this. Since the principle of solidarity underlies all the objectives of the Union's energy policy, it cannot be assumed that it does not produce any binding legal effects. The principle includes rights and obligations for EU countries.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Lebanon: Karpower shuts down power supply

A Turkish company that provides electricity to Lebanon from two power barges shut down its operations on Friday over delayed payments and the threat of legal action against its vessels. The move is expected to increase outages in the crisis-hit Mediterranean country.

The company Karpowership has been threatening to shut down its power supply to Lebanon for weeks and said it took the decision on Friday because of 18 months of overdue payments in excess of $100 million. However, the decision comes after a Lebanese prosecutor last week threatened to seize the ships, pending an investigation into corruption and graft allegations. The company has called those accusations baseless.

The company provides around 370 megawatts — about a quarter of Lebanon’s supply - through two electricity barges that have been anchored off the Lebanese coast since 2013. The company’s contract expires in September.

“For 18 months, we have been exceedingly flexible with the (Lebanese) state, continually supplying power without payment or a payment plan, because the country was already facing very hard times,” the Karpowership statement said. 

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

Friday, June 25, 2021

Nord Stream 2: possible legal obstacles after completion

 In a very interesting paper Prof. Alan Riley explains that the contentious pipeline "Nord Stream 2" might not be operational even after constructional completion. The project may face legal counteraction.


"However, even if a deal is not possible and Nord Stream 2 is technically completed despite the threat of US sanctions, it is far from clear that the pipeline can enter into operation any time soon. There is the prospect of a significant EU law battle at least over the application of the liberalization provisions of the Gas Directive 2009"

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

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Nuclear waste: France and Germany find agreement on taking back containers

 Source: WELT

Germany has agreed with France on a new way to take back castors containing highly radioactive nuclear waste. According to a joint information paper from the Federal Ministry of Economics and the Federal Environment Ministry, three to five containers with highly radioactive nuclear waste are to be returned from La Hague, France, to the Philippsburg interim storage facility in Baden-Württemberg by 2024. This would complete the return of all nuclear waste that Germany has to take back from France. According to the ministries, the agreement should be decided in plenary this Thursday.

The original plan provided for the return of 157 containers with medium-level radioactive material from the French plant in La Hague. Five castor casks with medium-level radioactive waste were originally intended to be returned to the Philippsburg interim storage facility and 152 casks with medium-level metal residues from refurbished fuel assemblies to the Ahaus interim storage facility in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

EU: Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism will hit Russia and Turkey

 German newspaper WELT reports on the planned green house gas tariffs on goods from non-EU-member states:

Climate protection is currently well received by voters; At the geopolitical level, however, ambitious climate policy doesn't just make friends. This applies above all to the currently discussed climate tariff for products that are produced in countries with less stringent climate regulations than Europe.

The so-called CO2 border adjustment is intended to make imported products that are more harmful to the climate overseas than in Europe more expensive at the borders of the EU. The climate protection wall around the continent could thus ensure that European producers, with their higher energy costs, can remain competitive on their home market. Stricter climate rules and rising energy prices should be possible without endangering jobs, for example in the energy-intensive steel industry.

Nord Stream 2: Putin's bizarre statements at the SPIEF

 German newspaper BILD has compiled to most bizarre assertions of Putin at the SPIEF:

Lies have short legs - especially when you are the president of the largest country in the world and listen carefully to a critic from near and far.

At the Economic Forum in Saint Petersburg, Russia's ruler Vladimir Putin gave his eagerly awaited speech on Friday. Particularly important from a German point of view: its inlets to the Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 2 - and the associated dwindling gas flows through Ukraine.

What Putin delivered was a mixture of half-truths and announcements that exposed his earlier promises and treaty signings as lies. Also and especially to Germany and Chancellor Angela Merkel personally, whose word supposedly carries so much weight with Russia's autocratic leader.

Claim 1: Nord Stream 2 tube completed

Putin's claim that the first strand of Nord Stream 2 was as good as finished caused the greatest excitement. Putin proudly announced: "Two and a half hours ago the laying of the first pipeline of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline was successfully completed."

Now all that remains to be done is to “lift and weld parts of the pipe on the Russian side. That is all, ”said Putin.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

EU: Commission approves German support for cogenerated electricity

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, the prolongation and modification of an existing German scheme to support the production of electricity from new, modernised and retrofitted highly efficient cogeneration (‘CHP') plants (except coal and lignite-fired CHP). The scheme (‘Kraft-Wärme-Kopplungsgesetz' – ‘KWKG 2020'), which is approved until 2026, will further promote energy efficiency, lead to a better integration of cogenerated power into the German electricity market and lower CO2 emissions, without unduly distorting competition.

Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “The German scheme will promote energy efficiency and contribute to further reductions in CO2 emissions, in line with the objectives of the European Green Deal. Compared to the existing German scheme to support cogenerated electricity, the new scheme introduces new features which aim at further ensuring the competitiveness of the tenders through which the support will be granted, as well as at keeping electricity prices low for consumers and incentivising cogeneration plants to operate at times of higher electricity demand, that is when it's needed the most.”

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

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

China: a listing of failing chinese technology

 Legal Insurrection writes: 

The Chinese mishandling of infectious agents is merely one in a long list of potentially deadly scientific missteps. There have been several news stories in the last few weeks and months that show disturbing and potentially catastrophic failures of many engineering projects.

Last year, experts questioned the massive Three Gorges Dam’s safety, warning that it could collapse at any moment due to summer rains. Unfortunately, we do not know if anyone resolved the engineering issues associated with that structure with the summer rainy season approaching.

More recently, officials evacuated and closed the 1,167-feet SEG Plaza in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen as the skyscraper began to wobble.

The Shenzhen government said on its microblog that no additional swaying had been detected since Tuesday, when the moving building caused objects on desks in the building to move and workers were evacuated from the tower.

Panicked pedestrians could be seen fleeing the area after the rocking began in videos shared to social media. Several nearby buildings were also evacuated, as police and fire crews sealed off the surrounding area.  

“Based on an analysis, any seismic event has been ruled out as a possible cause,” the Shenzhen government said, adding that the building’s infrastructure, windows and other architectural features appeared undamaged and there were no signs of cracks in the surrounding streets.

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


EU: state of affairs of the ITER fusion reactor

 ITER is a unique project, aiming to build the world’s largest fusion machine. By fostering innovation and international collaboration, the project creates economic growth and job opportunities, while putting the EU in the lead of global fusion research. 

The construction work started in 2007 in Cadarache, in the south of France, on a 42 hectare site that today hosts the tokamak, several buildings, infrastructure and power supplies. ITER is one of the most complex engineering projects in history, as it will require millions of components to assemble the giant reactor that will weigh 23,000 tonnes.

The project stems from the ITER agreement, which was signed by 7 partners in 2006: China, Euratom (represented by the European Commission), India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the USA.  Together, they govern the ITER Organization, which is responsible for constructing and managing the project, and they all pool financial and scientific resources to it. Each partner has a domestic agency that manages its contributions; the EU’s agency is called Fusion for Energy and is located in Barcelona, Spain.

In addition to the ITER activities, the EU is also supporting fusion research, education and training activities through the EUROfusion consortium funded by the Euratom Research and Training Programme 2021-2025.

The (near) fusion future

ITER aims to produce 10 times more fusion power than the heating power put into the plasma, making it the key experimental step between today’s research machines and tomorrow’s fusion power plants.

2020 marked an important step with the start of the 5-year assembly phase of the tokamak. The next big milestone will be in 2025, by which time ITER is expected to create its first super-heated plasma. This should reach full power by 2035, with the aim of demonstrating that more energy can be taken out than is put in. 

Even though ITER itself will not produce electricity – it is rather intended to prove that large-scale fusion is possible – it represents a giant step in the creation of fusion energy, and will drive the transition from research to reality.

In addition to the progress on the European site, later this year, the EU and Japan will inaugurate the fusion reactor JT-60SA, located in Naka, Japan. It will be the largest tokamak in operation, until ITER is operational. JT-60SA has been designed and built jointly by Japan and Europe under the “Broader Approach” agreement. Its specific properties are its capability to produce long-pulse plasmas. Its main missions are to support exploitation of ITER (scheduled to start in 2025) and to contribute to the design of the EU’s next generation fusion reactor, DEMO.

You can read the rest of the very interesting article via the below link:

EU: decrease of CO2 emissions in 2020

Eurostat estimates that in 2020, the year when COVID-19 containment measures were widely introduced by the EU Member States, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel combustion (mainly oil and oil products, coal, peat and natural gas) significantly decreased by 10% in the EU compared with the previous year. CO2 emissions from energy use are a major contributor to global warming and account for some 75% of all man-made EU greenhouse gas emissions. They are influenced by factors such as climate conditions (e.g. cold / long winter or hot summer), economic growth, size of the population, transport and industrial activities.

CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are generated in the country where the fuels are burned for purposes such as electricity generation, transport, steel production etc. Consequently, imports and exports of energy products have an impact: for example, if coal is imported for electricity generation this leads to an increase in emissions in the importing country, while if electricity as such is imported, it has no effect on emissions in the importing country, as these emissions would be reported in the exporting country where the electricity has been produced.

Biggest decreases in CO2 emissions from energy use in Greece and Estonia, lowest in Malta and Hungary

According to Eurostat estimates, emissions fell in 2020 in all EU Member States, with the largest decrease in Greece (-18.7%), followed by Estonia (-18.1%), Luxembourg (-17.9%), Spain (-16.2%) and Denmark (-14.8%). The lowest decreases were seen in Malta (-1.0%), Hungary (-1.7%), Ireland and Lithuania (both -2.6%).

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

Nord Stream 2: constructions works continue

 In the Baltic Sea, the Russian laying vessel "Fortuna" is now continuing to build the controversial German-Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream 2. "The" Fortuna "is currently working in German waters according to the existing permits and the announcements made by the authorities," said a spokesman for the Nord Stream 2 AG on Sunday the German Press Agency. The Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) in Hamburg had previously approved the continuation of the work.

Pipes should now be laid over a length of two kilometers. The background to this is a decision by the BSH, according to which there are currently no resting birds there that need to be protected. Therefore - as originally planned - there is no need to wait until the end of May to start work, it said.

The pipes may be placed on the seabed, the assembly should take place later, it said. The two kilometers are in the German Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). According to information from Nord Stream 2, work with the Russian laying vessel «Akademik Tscherski» is currently also ongoing in Danish waters.

The Naturschutzbund Deutschland (Nabu) and Deutsche Umwelthilfe went to court against the BSH approval from January for further construction in the German EEZ, with reference to birds resting in the protected area. The office has now allowed the pipes to be placed on the seabed until construction continues, since the birds' resting time in this short section is over.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia through the Baltic Sea to Germany has largely been completed. According to the information, 13.9 kilometers of one strand and 16.8 kilometers of the second strand are missing in German waters. The USA and several European countries are against the pipeline because they fear that Europe is too dependent on Russian gas.

The US has issued sanctions to prevent prefabricated construction. But Washington recently refrained from harsher punitive measures out of consideration for the federal government in Berlin, which supports the pipeline for energy security in Europe. Russia hopes to end the project in the next few months and to be able to pump the first gas through the 1,230-kilometer pipeline this year.

Source: WELT

Nord Stream 2: Biden clarifies statements concerning sanctions

The report from the renowned news agency Axios hit, not only in the US capital Washington: President Joe Biden waived sanctions against the pipeline company Nord Stream 2, registered in Switzerland, and its managing director, the German Putin intimate partner Matthias Warnig.

So far, Biden had criticized the underwater pipeline, which is supposed to connect Russia directly to the German Baltic Sea coast, as a "bad deal for Europe". The tube increases the dependence of the Western European allies on Russia and helps to finance an aggressive Russian expansion policy. This is what the US has argued so far. Now, however, in his quarterly report to Congress, Biden seemed to relent.

The German government had always defended the project led by the Russian Gazprom group - and also fought with Washington. US sanctions threats against German project partners were sharply rejected as unlawful interference in German and European sovereignty.

Now Biden's statements seemed to point to relaxation: The statement by the US President was seen as "a step towards us," said Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maaß.

People in Russia also listened: If the media report is correct, then "there is a hint of normality in American politics," said Vice Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in Moscow, according to the Interfax agency. The outrage among the pipeline opponents in the Republican Party in Washington was correspondingly loud.

The top Republican in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul, said that if the Axios report were correct, it would be an indication that the Biden administration never really wanted to prevent the pipeline.

But Biden was misunderstood, as the circumstances of his latest statement suggest. The US president had simply responded to repeated, persistent inquiries from the Republicans with a clarification regarding the project company Nord Stream 2 itself. But that had never been the target of the US sanctions, not even under Biden's predecessor Trump.

Source: WELT

Nord Stream 2: Report of State Department do Congress

Report to Congress on Provision of Pipe-Laying Vessels and Activities for Certain Russian Energy Export Pipelines

Nord Stream 2: context of the abandonment of sanctions by Biden administration

 In the dispute over the German-Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline, the government of US President Joe Biden waived sanctions against the operating company - also out of consideration for relations with Germany. In a report sent to Congress by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday, it is said that the waiver of punitive measures against Nord Stream 2 AG in Zug, Switzerland, its German managing director Matthias Warnig and four other employees is in the “national interest” of the USA. The reason given was that such sanctions "had a negative impact on US relations with Germany, the EU and other European allies and partners".

The report submitted to the German Press Agency further states that, on the basis of the US sanctions laws against the Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 2 and the Russian-Turkish gas project Turkstream, punitive measures would be issued against four Russian ships that laid pipes. Sanctions would also be imposed on four Russian institutions. Nevertheless, with Washington’s recent positioning, it seems increasingly unlikely that the completion of Nord Stream 2 will still be prevented over the last few meters. The Republicans accuse the Democrat Biden of having given Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin "a present".

According to the US Department report, Nord Stream 2 AG and managing director Warnig have also violated the sanctions laws. Blinken decided to forego penalties. This creates space for talks at diplomatic level with Germany in order to address the risks for Ukraine and European energy security through the completion of the pipeline.

In plain language, this should mean that the Americans are now expecting a sign of concession from the German side - perhaps by the next sanctions report, Blinking, to Congress in three months. Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) has already brought up an idea for a compromise: to finish the pipeline, but make operations dependent on Russia's behavior. With the smaller coalition partner SPD, however, such mind games are not so well received. In contrast to the Union, the Greens and the FDP, the Social Democrats are firmly committed to the pipeline project, without any restrictions.

In the federal government, the extensive waiver of sanctions by the USA is causing a sigh of relief for now. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) speaks of a “constructive step”. He sees the decision as a sign of appreciation for Germany, an important ally. In Berlin one has recently been increasingly annoyed that the much-invoked new beginning in German-American relations after the disastrous era of US President Donald Trump was overshadowed by the ongoing pipeline dispute. You now have to see “that this project does not burden our really excellent cooperation in any way,” Maas said on Wednesday.

The waiver of sanctions should also ease the strained relationship between the USA and Russia to a certain extent. The Russian company Gazprom is formally the sole shareholder of Nord Stream 2 AG. In addition, however, the German corporations Wintershall Dea - a joint venture between BASF and LetterOne - and Uniper, as well as the Dutch-British Shell, Engie from France and OMV from Austria are added as “supporters”. The Russian government spoke of a step towards normalizing the strained relations with Washington. Putin may now agree to a European summit proposed by Biden in June.

The government of the Democrat Biden may meet with applause for its actions in Berlin and Moscow. But she gives the Republicans in the US Congress a great opportunity - also because Blinken had promised to prevent the completion of the pipeline as best it could. It doesn't help that the chief diplomat is now declaring that they are still strictly against Nord Stream 2. Republican Senator Ted Cruz - one of the authors of the US sanctions laws against Nord Stream 2 - is already outraged about the “Biden-Putin pipeline” ». The top Republican in the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Jim Risch, accused the Biden government of putting German and Russian interests above those of allies in Central, Eastern and Northern Europe.

Both Republicans and Democrats overwhelmingly support the sanctions laws against Nord Stream 2. Biden has also repeatedly called the project “a bad deal for Europe”. In fact, since taking office on January 20, he has hardly taken any concrete action to stop the pipeline. In the previous State Department sanctions report three months ago - the first one that was blinked - no new sanctions were imposed. What goes down in the criticism of the Republicans, however: Even the Trump administration has only issued punitive measures against a single Russian ship and its operating company.

Trump - who was repeatedly accused of being too Putin-friendly - regularly railed against Nord Stream 2. But the Republican also shied away from imposing far-reaching punitive measures. He would have had the power to do so as US President, regardless of the sanctions laws against the pipeline. Senator Cruz - otherwise a loyal Trump ally - said at a hearing in Congress in December 2019: "If the pipeline is completed, it will be the fault of the members of this administration who sat on their buttocks."

Source: WELT

Nord Stream 2: Biden administration renounces sanctions against Nord Stream corporation

The US government officially waives sanctions against the operating company of the controversial Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 2 and its German managing director. In a report sent to the US Congress on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote that waiving the punitive measures would be “in the national interest of the US”.

Nord Stream 2 AG and its managing director Matthias Warnig are involved in activities that violate a US sanctions law, according to the report available to the AFP news agency. However, the application of sanctions would have "negative effects" on relations between the USA and Germany, the European Union and other European allies. However, sanctions are to be imposed on Russian laying vessels, as the report says.

US media had already reported on the sanction decision of the administration of US President Joe Biden on Tuesday. Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) then said that the federal government saw this "as a step that is being taken towards us".

Washington is strictly against the 1200 kilometer long Baltic Sea tube, which should significantly increase the potential for Russian natural gas deliveries to Germany. Like his predecessor Donald Trump, Biden argues that Germany and Europe would become increasingly dependent on Russia and damage Ukraine, the gas transit country.

Source: WELT

Friday, May 14, 2021

EU: impact of COVID-19 pandemic on EU energy supply in 2020

Since early 2020, restrictive measures have been taken to slow down the spread of COVID-19. These measures included the closure of factories, schools and restaurants, and required people to confine themselves in their homes. In late spring, many EU Member States began removing some restrictions following the first signs of recovery. By late autumn, however, the second COVID-19 wave had started and restrictive measures were again put in place. The EU’s fuel supply was adversely affected by these measures.

Inland deliveries of petroleum products

The oil industry was affected most by the pandemic and striking differences between 2020 and 2019 were evident. The most dramatic differences were seen in the deliveries of fuels for transport. In April 2020, deliveries of kerosene-type jet fuel dropped by more than 80% compared to the same month in 2019, while motor gasoline recorded a drop of nearly 50%. Gas oil and diesel oil also recorded a decrease of 20% over the same period. The reintroduction of restrictions by many Member States in autumn 2020 did not influence the deliveries of these fuels as much.

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

Colonial Pipeline Hack: gas prices hiking and panic buying as shutdown persists

The ransomware cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline has led to a continuous shutdown of significant stretches of the company’s system. The response is now fueling gas shortages and panic buying in portions of the 17 states that receive their fuel from this source. 

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

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Lebanon: Turkish Firm Threatens to Cut Floating Power Plants

 A Turkish company threatened to switch off two floating power plants that provide about a fifth of Lebanon’s electricity, amid a dispute with authorities over corruption allegations and payments. Lebanon’s Financial Prosecutor asked for Karpowership’s vessels to be seized pending an investigation into the renewal of the power supply contracts. “We are alarmed at the actions taken by Lebanon’s Financial Prosecutor and firmly deny any violation of our contract or the law,” a Karpowership spokesperson said in a statement late Saturday.

Read more at:

Cyber attack forces US pipeline to shutdown


The operator of the country’s largest fuel pipeline, Colonial Pipeline, fell victim to a cybersecurity attack on Friday that involved ransomware, forcing it to temporarily shut down all pipeline operations, the company said in a statement on Saturday.

The firm has hired a third-party cybersecurity firm to launch a probe into the incident and has contacted law enforcement and other federal agencies. The cyberattack has affected some of its IT systems too.

Colonial Pipeline, which transports nearly half of the East Coast’s fuel supply, said it is “taking steps to understand and resolve this issue.”

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

See also:


Thursday, April 22, 2021

Nord Stream 2: german politicians seek to mitigate the impact of the sanctions

 Source WELT:

US President Joe Biden was barely confirmed in office when CSU boss Markus Söder tweeted: “The transatlantic bridge is being built.” Meanwhile, despite all the relief about Biden's more cooperative political style, it is clear that some traces of this bridge are still clear “America first” applies.

A current example of this is the almost completed Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which is increasingly coming into the focus of the US government in view of the growing tensions with Russia - and is therefore putting pressure on the German government.

The Americans want to prevent the pipeline from Russia to Germany "at all costs," as Biden and other top US politicians emphasize. And the stronger the friction with Russia, currently fueled by the imprisonment of the Kremlin critic Alexej Navalny and Russian troop concentrations along the border of Ukraine and on the Crimean peninsula, the stronger the pressure of the USA on the German government.

In the factions of the grand coalition, the tough US course is leading to the realization that the 1,200-kilometer pipeline can only be completed at a high - possibly too high - foreign policy price.

A plan B is needed. There are now more votes in the CDU to put the building on hold for the time being. And in the SPD it is said that the company can be linked to political conditions for Russia.

"We need a face-saving solution for all sides, a moratorium could be one," says the CDU Federal MP and foreign policy expert Roderich Kiesewetter WELT.

Several CDU politicians had previously spoken out in favor of examining such a moratorium, including Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and the Federal Government's coordinator for transatlantic cooperation, Peter Beyer (CDU). A majority in the parliamentary group, including politicians like Kiesewetter, has so far been skeptical of this. Apparently, some people are now starting to rethink.

The foreign policy spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group, Nils Schmid, explains: “I don't see that the project can be stopped now, so close to completion. It is also questionable whether political majorities could be organized for this in a short period of time. However, it would be possible to make the operation of Nord Stream 2 subject to certain conditions. We should talk about that. "

So far, the SPD has been fairly closed behind the pipeline through which 55 billion cubic meters of gas are to flow into the European Union every year: the prime ministers in East Germany as well as finance minister and chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz and party leader Norbert Walter-Borjans.

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania's Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig (SPD) was instrumental in establishing a so-called environmental foundation, the purpose of which is actually to support the pipeline that is to end in Lubmin near Greifswald.

And the chairman of the board of directors of the project company for Nord Stream is known to be former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD).

The fact that the SPD is now calling for the operation of the pipeline to be linked to political conditions, which, depending on the political situation, could quickly lead to an actual shutdown, is a new tone. Ex-party leader Sigmar Gabriel recently told WELT that, from the point of view of European sovereignty, Nord Stream was “initially none of your business”.

That is exactly what the Americans see differently.

Because unlike Donald Trump, who wanted to prevent the underwater pipeline between Russia and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania through the Baltic Sea also in order to be able to sell American liquefied natural gas to Europeans more easily, Biden and a number of influential US politicians are not only interested in energy policy.

But above all, to get your hands on another instrument with which Russia can be put in its place. Nord Stream 2 falls under the geopolitical category in Washington.

Influential members of Congress see Nord Stream 2 not only as a danger to Europe, but also as a massive threat to American security interests. With the pipeline, Russia would get a "geopolitical tool", warn Senate members James Risch and Jeanne Shaheen. The pipeline would “tie up” Europe to Russian gas and thus expose “the next 40 years” to political constraints, the Republican and the Democrat wrote in a letter to Biden.

A few days later, Congressmen Michael T. McCaul (Republican) and Marcy Kaptur (Democrats) replied in a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken: “If completed, Nord Stream 2 would enable Putin's government to continue using Russia's energy resources as a weapon to exert political pressure on all of Europe. "One must counteract the evil influence of Russia, also by making sure that Nord Stream 2 is never completed". Both letters are available to WELT.

Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) had long described the billion dollar project as a purely economic project, so there was no reason for the federal government to intervene. But of course the gas pipeline is highly political.

And that's also because it triggers criticism not only in the USA, but everywhere in Europe - and that primarily affects the federal government and not the companies involved, Gazprom or, on the western side, Wintershall, Uniper and others, which do not hold any shares hold more of the project company for the pipeline, but remain committed to the project.

All EU institutions reject Nord Stream 2 as incompatible with a common European energy policy, and the Baltic states, Ukraine and Poland feel that they have been bypassed in the truest sense of the word. The southern Europeans resent the federal government for sticking to Nord Stream, but preventing the southern variant, South Stream. France recently warned the Germans to put the project on hold. In addition, environmentalists are storming against it, and economists are questioning the economic viability.

A moratorium could be a way out of the dilemma - believes Kiesewetter's group. And a political signal. "A moratorium would be a sign to the Russian government that we will not simply accept cases such as the imprisonment of Alexei Navalny, the actions of the Russians in eastern Ukraine or the annexation of Crimea," said the CDU MP.

However, he also sees the problem of such a solution: "It is clear that such a moratorium does not exist for free, the consequence would be contractual penalties for which the federal government should be responsible."

The project could cost up to ten billion euros; the submarine tube is currently 95 percent complete. Experts estimate that if it is not completed, claims for damages could accrue that are also in the billions. Money that the taxpayer would have to raise.

It is clear to those in favor of this solution that this will not go down well, especially in a super election year. "An alternative to a moratorium could be to complete the natural gas pipeline, but then not obtain any Russian gas until the open foreign policy issues have been resolved, in other words a kind of shutdown mechanism," suggests Kiesewetter.

The CDU politician is thus quite close to the ideas of the SPD foreign politician Schmid: “With this solution, we would not come under time pressure. That only arises when you aim to demolish construction, ”he says.

“In addition, in this case the state would not be confronted with high claims for damages, which would inevitably threaten in the event of a moratorium. In the case of operational requirements, if they are motivated by foreign policy, we could invoke the law of sanctions. ”This would mean that companies would not be able to sue for compensation.

It is questionable whether this course has a majority in the SPD. And in the CDU-led Ministry of Economics, they don't want to hear about such initiatives. The federal government is neither a contractual partner nor can and should determine the conditions under which gas will flow through Nord Stream 2 and be accepted, it says.

Mind games about "a de facto expropriation" would have a fatal effect on investors and the location. Alternatives to aborting the pipeline plans are negotiations with the Americans and other partners about an "energy partnership", technology transfers to expand renewable energies in the USA or investments in the gas network in Ukraine.

Foreign politician Schmid suggests that we first sound out the intentions of the US government and come to an agreement with it “whether we want to use energy policy as a sanction tool against Russia at all. And what goals we are pursuing if we slow down Nord Stream 2 now. The release of Navalny? The withdrawal from Donbass or from the Crimea? "

What is needed is an overall concept. "To concentrate solely on Nord Stream now to put pressure on the Kremlin is probably not very effective and not honest on the part of the Americans," said Schmid. "Because they buy large quantities of oil in Russia at the same time."

Nord Stream 2: How Russia is bypassing the sactions with help of European countries

 An interesting investigation by german newspaper WELT:

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken never tires of repeating what top Washington officials have been saying for more than a decade. At the meeting with Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in Brussels two weeks ago, Blinken emphasized that the USA rejected the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. In an interview with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Blinken said that US President Joe Biden considers Nord Stream 2 to be a “bad idea”, bad for Europe and the USA. The American Secretary of State is expected to hold new talks in Brussels on Tuesday.

In a recent interview with the television broadcaster CNN, Blinken stated that there was no ambiguity in the American position: close German-American relations on the one hand, and a fundamental rejection of Nord Stream 2 on the other. The spokesman for the US Embassy in Berlin, Joseph Giordono-Scholz, also made it unequivocally: The White House "is determined to use all available levers to prevent the completion of Nord Stream 2".

It is more than clear: the USA wants to do all it can to prevent the eleven billion dollar project, which many critics between Kiev and Brussels describe as Russia's geopolitical project. The pipeline between Russia and Germany running on the bottom of the Baltic Sea is 95 percent complete and in the long term would make gas transit via Ukraine superfluous.

A weakening of Kiev has been in Moscow's interest since 2004 at the latest, when the country committed itself to the west course with the “Orange Revolution”. This is currently also proven by the Russian deployment on the Ukrainian border. In Berlin, however, the criticism has so far been restrained. From a German perspective, Russia's saber-rattling clearly has no impact on the future of Nord Stream 2.

At first glance, it would not take more than one last effort to complete the controversial project - if it weren't for the American sanctions that forced the Swiss service provider Allseas and its high-tech lay vessels to withdraw from the project. According to the US media, the Biden government is preparing a new round of sanctions. The content remains unknown so far. The target of these new sanctions could be Nord Stream 2 AG, the official builder of the pipeline, and CEO Matthias Warnig.

But at least the previous extraterritorial sanctions of the Americans, which triggered criticism in Germany, not least from Chancellor Angela Merkel, could be more holey than initially assumed. Despite intensive efforts by Nord Stream – 2 critics such as Poland, construction is progressing. Warsaw recently canceled the registration of two supply vessels registered in Gdansk and sailing under the Polish flag. These are said to have been involved in the construction of the pipeline.

But the special ship "Akademik Tscherski", which Russia intends to use for the completion of the pipeline, appears to be invulnerable to attacks by the opponents of Nord Stream 2. For almost a year, after his adventurous relocation of Russia's offshore projects on the Pacific to the Baltic Sea - at that time, Akademik Tscherski was sometimes accompanied by warships of the Russian Navy, it frequently changed course and destination, apparently to confuse the Americans - it has been commuting Ship between German ports and the Russian Baltic exclave Kaliningrad. In December, the German waterways and shipping administration said that the laying vessel was ready for use.

It was apparently retrofitted with European technology - despite sanctions, as the Russian-language service of Deutsche Welle reported with reference to Russian and German customs data from the ImportGenius database. According to this, Russian companies that have not appeared so far have purchased systems for pipeline construction from suppliers for a total of ten million dollars from the Netherlands and Italy, which the owner of the laying ship Akademik Tschersk had re-exported to Germany.

According to the research, suppliers such as Nuova Patavium srl from the northern Italian region of Veneto have split orders into individual deliveries that should have triggered US sanctions under the “Countering Russian Influence in Europe and Eurasia Act”. These remained below the sum of one million dollars - this was how it was possible to avoid attracting the attention of US authorities.

Thanks to such tricks, the construction of Nord Stream 2 continues undisturbed and fits into a long series of manipulations that are intended to lead US authorities astray. On paper, for example, Akademik Tscherski no longer belongs to the marine division of Gazprom since last year, but to an obscure infrastructure management fund from the Russian region of Samara, which previously belonged indirectly to the Russian energy company. Today it can no longer be proven that the fund is controlled by Gazprom, its real owners are unknown.

As reported by Russian media, the Fortuna lay vessel has completed half of the previously outstanding section of the pipeline in Danish waters. The section should be ready by the end of May, according to a message from the pipeline builder to Denmark's Energy Agency - partly with the help of Akademik Tscherski. The ship arrived at the construction site on Monday, as reported by Russian media.

This is good news for Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania's SPD Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig and her controversial “Foundation for Climate and Environmental Protection MV”. The organization, largely financed by Gazprom, which critics such as the FDP member of the Bundestag Alexander Graf Lambsdorff call "Fake Foundation", is supposed to promote climate and environmental protection projects in science and research, but also finance projects at daycare centers and schools. At the same time, the “completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline” is one of the goals of the foundation. That is a "temporary secondary purpose", says Erwin Sellering, head of the foundation and former Prime Minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

A secondary purpose with far-reaching geopolitical consequences, as Sellering openly said in an interview with Deutschlandfunk Kultur, the foundation is supposed to be a kind of insurance policy for Gazprom. If the talks between the German government, the EU Commission and Joe Biden's government about the future of the pipeline should fail, they are “ready to help”. The Russian state energy exporter Gazprom is at least not making its tricks public - it does not seem to be a problem for a German state government to openly offer help to circumvent sanctions.

But this help could be unnecessary. Akademik Tscherski should start work shortly, then the construction work has reached the home straight: the last 120 kilometers in Danish waters, the most complex construction section of Nord Stream 2. The completion of the pipeline will then take a matter of months. According to Gazprom board member Viktor Zubkov, the pipeline will be completed this year: “It's a shame about the lost time, but that's how it happened,” commented Zubkov at a press conference.