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".

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