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.

For Nord Stream 2, this is a breakthrough with a delay of more than a year and a half. However, certification from the German authorities is still required to operate the line. It is expected that the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom will deliver the first natural gas through the new pipeline to Germany in October, initially using the line that was already laid in June.

Construction of Nord Stream 2 began in May 2018. The pipeline, which is around 1200 kilometers long and consists of two lines, will in future bring Russian natural gas to Germany on a much larger scale than before. The pipeline is expected to deliver 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year from Russia through the Baltic Sea to Germany. According to the operating company, this can supply 26 million households.

The construction costs of the 1230-kilometer pipeline, which has two strands, are given as more than ten billion euros. The line was financed half by the Russian energy giant Gazprom and half by the five European companies OMV, Wintershall Dea, Engie, Uniper and Shell.

Gazprom plans to pump 5.6 billion cubic meters of gas through the pipeline this year, as the company recently announced. Nord Stream 2 runs from Vyborg in Russia through the Baltic Sea to Lubmin near Greifswald in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

Controversial plan

The project is controversial. The construction of the tubes on the bottom of the Baltic Sea was delayed, in particular because of US resistance. The US government criticizes that Europe is making itself too dependent on Russia for its energy supply. At the end of 2019, the then administration of US President Donald Trump imposed sanctions to prevent the completion of the pipeline. The construction work was then suspended. A German-American agreement stipulates that Russia will be subject to sanctions if the pipeline is used as a geopolitical “weapon”.

The German-Russian project is also controversial within Europe. The financially weak Ukraine is urgently dependent on the billions in revenue from the transit fees for gas transit. She fears losses and hopes for Germany's support so that she can continue to play a role as a transit country in the future. The current contract for the transmission of Russian gas to Europe expires in 2024. Ukraine wants to extend it with German mediation.

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin had repeatedly said that future gas transit via Ukraine would depend on demand on the European energy market. He also stressed that Russia is not responsible for the Ukrainian state budget. Environmentalists, on the other hand, criticize the pipeline for reasons of climate policy.

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