Update: Adds comments by the Russian foreign ministry and Duma speaker
Adds details on U.S. House call against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline
By Bartolomej Tomić
The European Parliament members are calling for the Nord Stream 2 offshore gas pipeline project to be canceled, citing security reasons. The pipelaying works are already underway.
The call against the project was announced on Wednesday during the evaluation of the latest developments related to the EU-Ukraine association agreement, which entered into force in 2017.
According to a statement by the European Parliament, the MEPs on Wednesday said: “With Ukraine playing a crucial role in the European energy supply network, MEPs condemn the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline which bypasses Ukraine, “as it is a political project that poses a threat to European energy security”. They, therefore, call for it to be canceled.”
The pipeline, operated by Gazprom’s subsidiary Nord Stream 2 AG, is designed as a twin pipeline with two parallel 48 inch lines, roughly 1,200 kilometers long, each starting from south-west of St Petersburg and ending at German coast, Greifswald. Nord Stream 2’s natural gas pipelines will have the capacity to transport 55 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Russian gas a year to the EU, for at least 50 years.
The project has been seen by some as a threat to the EU energy security, making the union vulnerable to reliance on Russian gas, and also bypass Ukraine in moving Russian gas to Europe. To alleviate similar concerns, the EU has been working on increasing imports of LNG from the U.S. As for Ukraine, it has been said that the Nord Stream 2 would lead to the country losing $3 billion a year in transit fees.
Offshore Energy Today has reached out to Nord Stream AG to see what the European Parliament’s report meant for the project itself, as the world’s largest construction vessel – Allseas’ Pioneering Spirit – this entered the Baltic Sea via the Great Belt Bridge in Denmark to join the Nord Stream 2 construction fleet with plans to soon move to the Finnish EEZ to continue to pipelay of the first line.
Responding, Nord Stream AG said the European Parliament on Wednesday “adopted a report on the implementation of the EU Association Agreement with Ukraine. Nord Stream 2 does not comment on political statements and declarations.”
“Nord Stream 2 complies with all applicable rules and laws as instructed by the competent authorities of the EU member states, whose jurisdictions the pipeline is being built in. The project is implemented according to the existing permits from the governments and authorities of four countries.”
The European Parliament’s call against the project comes just one day after a similar resolution was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, which said that “Nord Stream II is a drastic step backwards for European energy security and United States interests.
The project has been seen by some as a threat to the EU energy security, making the union vulnerable to reliance on Russian gas. To alleviate similar concerns, the EU has been working on increasing imports of LNG from the U.S.
As for the Nord Stream 2 project schedule, Offshore Energy Today understands that the pipeline construction will continue as planned as the EP’s move is seen as non-binding.
Allseas-owned offshore pipelay vessel Solitaire in September started the pipelay for the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline in the Gulf of Finland. By November 6, over 200 kilometers of pipeline had been laid in the Baltic Sea, with some 20 vessels are operating simultaneously on the project.
Gazprom has recently said the pipeline, designed to run roughly parallel to the existing Nord Stream pipeline, should begin operations before the end of 2019.
Worth noting, the European Parliament’s call against the project comes just one day after a similar resolution was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, which said that “Nord Stream II is a drastic step backwards for European energy security and United States interests.”
The House called upon European governments to reject the Nord Stream II project and urged President Trump “to use all available means to support European energy security through a policy of reducing reliance on the Russia Federation.”
Furthermore, the House said it supported the imposition of sanctions with respect to Nord Stream II under section 232 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.
Russia: They want Europe to freeze
Commenting on the U.S. move, Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the Russian foreign ministry on Thursday said: “This is beneficial to those who do not want to see Europe stable, prosperous, don’t not want it to be safe and warm during the winter, and also to develop normal relations with countries that are also part of Europe (if we talk specifically about the European Union, then with other European countries that are not part of this association).”
Zakharova said: “We hear not only endless calls but already real threats from American officials, representatives of the legislative and executive branches.”
She also reminded of U.S. president Trump’s recent criticism against Germany for its dependence on Russian gas. Zakharova said Trump had “threatened and warned” Germany against engaging with Russia in the energy sector.
“It has already gone far beyond the normal relations between financial and economic operators, competitors. This is the use of methods prohibited by the Western countries themselves. They were the ideologues of the development of global economic relations, freedom in the economy, the creation and entry of as many countries as possible into all possible zones and regulatory structures.
“They invented the rules. And now they themselves are breaking them, using aggressive rhetoric against countries that intend, want and, have experience in developing normal, mutually beneficial and mutually respectful, in particular energy, ties.”
Duma Speaker: EU pressured by U.S.
Russian news agency Tass cited Russia’s lower house of parliament (Duma) speaker Vyacheslav Volodin who said the European Parliament’s call against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline came as a result of the U.S. pressure.
“Obviously, the European Parliament has made the decision under the US pressure. Calls for halting a project that is economically viable for European countries and their citizens are heard after repeated sanctions threats from the side of the US Congress against companies participating in the Nord Stream 2 construction…That is nothing more than unfair competition supported by politicians proclaiming democracy and free economic principles.”
Offshore Energy Today Staff