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U.S. Top Energy Man Says Russia Can’t Complete Nord Stream Alone

U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouilette believes Russia’s Gazprom will not be able to complete the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project on its own due to U.S. sanctions, Bloomberg reports, citing the official who spoke on the sidelines of an energy conference in Germany, the destination of Nord Stream 2.

“It’s going to be a very long delay, because Russia doesn’t have the technology,” Brouilette told Bloomberg in an interview. “If they develop it, we’ll see what they do. But I don’t think it’s as easy as saying, well, we’re almost there, we’re just going to finish it.”

Last month, after the U.S. levied sanctions on companies involved in the construction of the pipeline, Gazprom said it would complete the project on its own.

"The Nord Stream 2 project, which is already 94 percent complete, will be finished by the Russian side," the director-general of Gazprom Export told media in January.

The twin pipe of Nord Stream will carry an additional 55 billion cu m of Russian gas to Europe and more specifically, Germany, whose gas hunger is growing as it shuts down coal and nuclear power plants. The controversy around the project centers on Ukraine: Nord Stream bypasses the main transit corridor of Russian gas and could, the Ukrainians and the EU fear, reduce Ukraine’s gas transit revenues severely.

There is also the geopolitical factor, of course, with the U.S. claiming that the additional pipe will increase Russia’s influence in Europe to unacceptable levels.

Despite Brouilette’s upbeatness, not all agree that Nord Stream 2 can be stopped. According to experts, ICIS reported earlier this month, all difficulties around the projects are surmountable.

“Finishing the pipeline in the first quarter of 2021 could be realistic if Russia is able to restart construction works in the first half of 2020. But it will probably take up to twelve months to modernise the ship and this modernisation is intended to allow the ship to work on Sakhalin fields, actually not related to Nord Stream 2,” a Poland-based energy consultant, Mateusz Kubiak from Esperis Consulting, told ICIS.


By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on February 17 2020 said:
    US Energy Secretary Dan Brouiletta is not only deluding himself but he will be forced to eat his words on Nord Stream 2. He has to reckon with Vladimir Putin.

    The Americans thought that the intrusive sanctions they imposed on Russia in 2014 will cripple the Russian economy. Not only did Russia under Putin’s inspiring leadership withstood the sanctions, it has decimated them and flourished registering an economic growth rate of 2.5% in 2019 compared with 2.1% for the United States. Furthermore, the rouble has clawed back its losses against the dollar and the Russian Treasury has amassed more than $550 bn in hard currency.

    The Americans thought that the sanctions and ExxonMobil’s withdrawal from its joint oil exploration venture with Rosneft in the Arctic will put an end to Russia’s exploration there. On the contrary, the Arctic has become Russia’s WILD WEST. To that end President Putin has spared no money in supporting Russian oil and gas companies’ exploration in the Arctic and also the development of a home-grown state-of-the-art Arctic exploration technology. Putin wanted to demonstrate that US sanctions won’t deter Russia from Arctic drilling. Russia is reported to have more than $8 trillion worth of untapped oil and gas in its sector of the Arctic.

    The Americans boasted that Bashar Al Assad’s regime will collapse. But with Putin’s help more than 97% of Syria has been liberated with the American oil pirates soon to be kicked out.

    Putin will ensure that Nord Stream 2 is unstoppable. While the sanctions may delay the completion of Nord Stream 2 by a few months, this will not affect Russian natural gas supplies to the EU. Russia could continue its gas shipments to the EU through Ukraine particularly after the recent agreement with Ukraine to settle their differences regarding the amount of Russian gas that will pass through Ukraine on its way to the EU and the transit fees that Ukraine will earn.

    And despite claims by the United States that Nord Stream 2 undermines Europe’s overall energy security and stability, the overwhelming majority of Europeans see US opposition to the gas pipeline as a crude attempt to force them to buy US LNG at the expense of Russian piped natural gas supplies.

    The reality of the 21st century—as President Putin sees it—is that energy is a political instrument. Political alliances and the rise and fall of the international importance of particular countries will change in accordance with the energy supply routes.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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