Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Nord Stream 2: discord on sanctions against Nord Stream 2 blocks US defense budget

 Congressmen of the republican party have blocked the decision on the defense budget over the question of further sanctions against the pipeline operator and connected companies, writes BILD:

In Washington, the conflict over sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Baltic Sea is coming to a head. That has now contributed to the temporary blockade of the US defense budget for the coming year.

The Republicans in the US Senate prevented a vote on the Defense Budget (NDAA) package on Monday evening (local time) using procedural rules. The Republican minority leader, Mitch McConnell, justified the move with the fact that the Democrats refused to include a change in the law on Nord Stream 2 in the package. After the change, US President Joe Biden will no longer have the option of exempting US sanctions due to Nord Stream 2 for reasons of national security.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Germany: how to save the remaining six nuclear power plants

In the face of the imminent shutdown of three german nuclear plants in january 2022 and the switch-off of the remaining three plants in 2023, experts contemplate how to save them in order to meet the climate goals and also preserve energy security for Germany, writes WELT:

Time is running out. In a good eight weeks, three of the last six German nuclear power plants will be shut down, and the rest will follow in 14 months. That is more than all solar systems installed since the beginning of the energy transition provide. What is switched off there has so far contributed to clean electricity generation in Germany about as much as 15,000 of the total of 30,000 wind turbines.

A gigatonne of CO2 could be saved if the reactors were to continue to operate, have calculated technology-oriented climate protection associations such as “Öko-Moderne e.V.”. Such organizations have come together to form the “saveger6” initiative, an abbreviation for “save Germany’s six”, to “rescue” the last six German nuclear power plants.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Nord Stream 2: operating licence denied

 Bad news for Gazprom. German Federal Network Agency (Bundesagentur) has denied the operating licence on the motive that the operating company must be organised according to german law. Nord Stream 2's operating company however is a company registered in Switzerland under swiss law. Read more in BILD:

Not a good day for Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin (69) and his gas manager Gerhard Schröder (77, Gazprom / Nord Stream, Rosneft): The Federal Network Agency is temporarily stopping the approval process (certification) for the second Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 2!

► No operating license without certification!

► No gas transport without the permit!

Not a good day for Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin (69) and his gas manager Gerhard Schröder (77, Gazprom / Nord Stream, Rosneft): The Federal Network Agency is temporarily stopping the approval process (certification) for the second Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 2!

► No operating license without certification!

► No gas transport without the permit!

Nord Stream (main owner: Gazprom) now wants to found a new German subsidiary that will then operate the German part.

Basic problem for Nord Stream: Even if Germany allows the tube, the EU has the last word! And there is considerable doubt that Nord Stream 2 complies with EU law. Because according to the EU Energy Directive, line operators and energy suppliers cannot be in one hand. In the case of Nord Stream 2, however, both are in the hands of the Kremlin group Gazprom. The network agency has until January 8th to make a decision.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

France: government projects construction of new EPR nuclear reactors

 After the report of french  transmission system operator Réseau de transport d'électricité (RTE) on October 25th 2021 with different scenarios on the energy consumption and the energy mix in France, president Emmanuel Macron has made the decision to build new nuclear reactors to safeguard the energetical independence of France and to reach the climate goals that the frenche government has committed itself to, writes frenche newspaper Le Monde:

The main presidential candidates had already spoken out for or against the construction of new reactors. Five months before the election, Emmanuel Macron - who has not yet declared himself - has in turn formalized his position in favor of relaunching the nuclear program. The head of state announced Tuesday, November 9, his decision to "relaunch the construction of reactors in our country" while continuing to "develop renewable energies". The project aims to "guarantee the energy independence of France (...), the electricity supply of our country and achieve our objectives, in particular carbon neutrality in 2050", he argued on the occasion. a televised address on the general situation of the country.

The announcement remains vague, however: no date has been given for the start of work, and the number of reactors envisaged has not been specified. Since 2019, however, the government has been considering a specific hypothesis: the construction of six new third generation reactors of very high power, known as “EPR 2”. The energy company EDF submitted a report to this effect in May at the request of the State, its main shareholder.

The launch of a new nuclear program would be a first for France "in decades", stressed Emmanuel Macron. Most of today's reactors were built at high speed, from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s. The country now has fifty-six reactors, which already guarantee low-carbon electricity production. But this park is aging, with many facilities approaching or reaching the age of 40. Within twenty years, a majority of them should have ceased to function for reasons of obsolescence and safety.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Nord Stream 2: gas shortage and uncertainty about Gazprom's plans

 While russian president Vladimir Putin ordered the gas producers to fill the gas reservoirs in Germany and Austria the concrete results are long time in the coming. This behaviour confirms some observers that this move is destined to coerce german authorities to issue the operating licence to Nord Stream 2. Read more in this WELT article

The energy consumers in Germany have to wait for the announced additional natural gas from Russia. Data from the network operator Gascade shows that in Mallnow, Brandenburg on the Polish border, where the Yamal pipeline from Siberia arrives, no Russian natural gas arrived at all by Monday evening, reports "Spiegel".

The Russian newspaper "Kommersant" also confirmed that Russian gas deliveries have so far only increased slightly. “Gazprom has started at a very moderate pace to implement Vladimir Putin's order to replenish European storage facilities from November 8th. Even though the company has pumped gas into the storage facilities again in the past few days, it has not significantly increased deliveries via Ukraine and has not yet resumed transport through the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline. "

After months of the energy crisis, gas customers in Europe were actually hoping for additional energy supplies from Russia as of the month of the month. It has been almost two weeks since Russian President Vladimir Putin, under pressure from rising prices and poorly filled storage facilities, instructed the state gas giant Gazprom to replenish the reserves in Germany and Austria. First the domestic supplies should be replenished. But then Gazprom should also open the valves for Europe further.

Russia's state media cheered that Putin was the “savior in the gas crisis” and was protecting the EU from the cold shock. On Monday, a spokesman for Putin confirmed that the order was in place for Gazprom to deliver more than the agreed mandatory quantities after November 8th. Ukraine, meanwhile, reported an increase in transit to Europe compared to the past few days. Accordingly, the daily amount rose to 88 million cubic meters of gas, most recently it was around 60 million cubic meters. There was initially no reaction from Gazprom.

The Federal Association of Energy and Water Industries had also welcomed Moscow's announcement. At the end of October, according to the association, the plants supplied by Gazprom in Germany were only 21 percent full, below average compared to other gas storage facilities.

Meanwhile, there is still great anger in Russia over allegations that the country is driving up prices by withholding gas. As Russia's most important woman in gas exports, Jelena Burmistrowa has just decidedly rejected responsibility for the energy crisis on the international stage. At a conference in Amsterdam earlier this month, the head of Gazprom-Export said anyone who “speculates about Gazprom's malicious acts” is far from reality.

Russia kept pointing out that there was a gas crisis around the world. The reasons lie in the recovery of the economy after the restrictions caused by the pandemic. There is a hunger for energy, especially in Asia. Last but not least, the US would have preferred to deliver additional liquefied gas there and not to Europe, said Burmistrowa.

Kremlin chief Putin had accused the Europeans of neglecting to properly fill their gas storage facilities after a cold winter. To make matters worse, because of the slack wind in the North Sea, the wind turbines produced less electricity there. More gas had to be converted into electricity. This also reduced storage reserves.

Nonetheless, Russia found itself exposed to political accusations in Germany and other EU countries that deliveries were in short supply in order to bring about the rapid commissioning of the finished Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Baltic Sea. The Kremlin urged that Nord Stream 2 could ease the situation. But Moscow also stressed that regardless of this, all agreed quantities would be delivered. Customers in the West also confirmed that Russia delivers reliably.

It is not at all disputed that the raw materials giant is fulfilling its contracts. Rather, the point of contention is whether Russia is really doing everything it can to deliver additional quantities. Putin himself made it clear that there were limits for him. For example, Gazprom wants to do without Ukraine, which has long been the most important transit country for Russian gas deliveries to Europe.

The route through Ukraine is longer and therefore more expensive; In addition, the Ukrainian transmission network was ailing and could not withstand the higher pressure from the transit, explained Putin. Ukraine's offers to lower the fees came to nothing. The impoverished country urgently needs the income from transit.

As Vice President of Gazprom, Burmistrowa also stated at the Amsterdam conference that Russia was not interested in extremely high gas prices. The “record prices” could accelerate the transition to renewable energies in the EU. The huge empire, which is dependent on petrodollars, wants to earn money for its national budget with fossil fuels for a long time to come.

Putin spoke out several times in favor of a return to long-term contracts, because this would give Russia planning security for the development of new deposits. The gas price should therefore be linked to that for oil. Russia is also increasingly producing liquefied gas and can therefore react more quickly to acute situations. "In contrast to the flexible suppliers of liquefied gas, we are firmly bound to Europe through our pipeline system," said Burmistrowa.

The fact that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which was built for more than ten billion euros, has not yet been released for operation only triggers uncomprehending shaking of the head in Russia. 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year should flow to Europe in the future. A start date is not in sight.

Meanwhile, the Russians emphasize that in view of the gas crisis they have already delivered more than agreed. Exports to Germany alone increased by 30 percent in the first nine and a half months compared to the same period in the previous year, it said. Germany is the largest Gazprom customer in the EU. The country bought around 46 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia in 2020 - around a third of all consumption in Germany. Still, that's not enough.

However, there is no threat of a collapse in supply. Analysts believe that the storage facilities in Europe are still filled with around 82 billion cubic meters or 76 percent of active gas. That is about 15 percentage points less than the average for the past five years. The Gazprom storage facilities in Germany and Austria, the CEO Alexej Miller admitted during an interview with Putin, had hardly any gas left.