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The Russian Government has warned the US not to put further pressure on anyone over the certification of the $11bn Nord Stream 2 (NS2) gas pipeline.
The newly completed 1,764km double pipeline is still awaiting clearance from German regulators before Russia can start exporting gas through it. NS2 bypasses Ukraine and instead imports Russian gas directly to Germany via the bed of the Baltic Sea. If green-lit, it will double Russia’s overall flows to Germany, providing 55bn cubic meters of gas through both pipelines.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said: “It is very important, of course, that the United States of America does not put pressure on anyone in connection with the ongoing implementation and certification of this project,” Peskov emphasized. The comments follow the Biden administration imposing sanctions targeting Russia-linked Transadria and its operating vessel.
Europe already depends on Russia for over a third of its gas supplies. While the US has previously waived specific sanctions on the pipeline’s operator, it remains opposed to NS2 – as The White House believes it would make Europe too reliant on Russian gas.
Germany has reportedly made assurances to the US that it will take action if Russia uses energy as a weapon in its relations with Ukraine. However, reports from Axios suggest Berlin was urging members of the US Congress not to sanction the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as doing so would “weaken” American credibility and “ultimately damage transatlantic unity”.
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Germany’s foreign ministry told Reuters it was working with the US to alleviate its concerns over NS2, with hope of implementing a joint declaration in the near future.
It said: “We fundamentally reject sanctions among allies.”
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also spoken against the project, as it could reduce transit fees for gas passing through Ukraine and further side-line the country in European affairs. At the Lord Mayor of London’s banquet earlier this month, he said: “We hope that our friends may recognise that a choice is shortly coming between mainlining ever more Russian hydrocarbons in giant new pipelines and sticking up for Ukraine and championing the cause of peace and stability, let me put it that way.”
The continent is bracing itself for a difficult winter amid supply shortages and soaring prices. Industry leaders have warned of potential blackouts while skyrocketing wholesale costs are already being felt in the UK market – with over 20 firms ceasing trading since September.
By City AM
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The EU nations are going to feel the harsh cold this winter amid gas supply shortages and soaring prices without the extra volumes of natural gas that Nord Stream 2 will bring to them.
Russia holds all the cards particularly with shortages of gas and LNG supplies around the world and accelerating demand in the Asia-Pacific region. Neither Qatari or American LNG shipments nor Norway's gas shipments could satisfy the EU’s demand. Only Russia can. So a quid pro quo is emerging: certification of Nord Stream 2 for further Russian gas shipments.
And to rub salt into injury, Russia has the option of switching additional gas shipments from the EU to China. The hapless EU is shooting itself in the foot.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London