Operator “Nord stream-2” 2 Nord Stream AG has already commented on the new US threats. According to the representative of the company Jens Muller, the construction project is fully consistent with the law and does not need any “plans B”.
“We’re calm. The financing is fully provided by shareholders and investors, the construction of pipelines continues according to the plan,” he said in a comment to the Turkish Agency Anadolu, explaining the pressure on Nord stream 2 by our desire to increase the export of its own liquefied gas (LNG) to Europe.
The same opinion is held in the State Duma.
“Judging by the statements of representatives of the Executive power and these initiatives, the impression of some hysteria. It’s like the end of the world. There are new delivery routes (whether “Turkish stream” or “Nord stream — 2″), it increases the energy security of Europe”, — said the Chairman of the State Duma Committee on energy Pavel Zavalny.
“On the conditions that are formed, it is unprofitable to supply gas in the form of LNG to the European market from the US, and in order to be profitable, it is necessary to remove other suppliers, to question supplies from Russia, to delay the construction of Nord stream 2,” he continued.Us sanctions rhetoric against the pipeline, on the one hand, looks somewhat belated. According to Gazprom estimates, more than 1,000 kilometers of the pipeline has already been laid. The total length of each of the two threads is 1224 km.
In addition, even European officials have repeatedly recognized that the construction of the pipeline will not stop and it is necessary to accept its existence as a given. On May 9, Austrian Minister of economy Margaret schrambok Once again stated that the pipeline is necessary for the long-term energy supply of Europe, and other transportation channels, for example, American LNG, can be an addition to it.
On the other hand, Gazprom does not really have its own pipe-laying vessels, so if the gas pipeline cannot be completed before the introduction of new sanctions, of course, if it takes place at all, there may be problems for construction.
According to experts, while the document will be approved by Congress, the Senate and the President, the work can be completed. Initially, it was planned that this would happen at the end of this year.
However, some problems have arisen because of Denmark, which delays the issuance of permits for laying pipes in its exclusive economic zone. By law, Copenhagen cannot refuse to issue such a permit but can consider it for an indefinite time. Now the profile Committee is considering three options for laying the pipeline at once, and this may delay the construction for a few more months, which is worrying in the light of possible sanctions.
In addition, do not forget about the obstacles that the Europeans themselves have created for the already ready “Nord stream-2”. We are talking about a change in European legislation, which brings the gas pipeline to the norms of the Third energy package and can lead to the fact that the pipe will remain half empty since the second half should be reserved for “alternative suppliers”.
On April 12, Nord Stream 2 AG sent a letter to the head of the EC Jean-Claude Juncker with a request to officially confirm that under the new legislation the conditions will be applied to the project no worse than to other similar gas pipelines. On May 13, the European Commission announced its readiness to meet and listen to arguments in favor of the project’s exclusion from the amendments to the EU Gas Directive.
At the time, such an exception was granted to the continuation of the first “Nord stream” OPAL gas pipeline. But whether the EU will take such a step now is unclear. Especially since the US, as we see, continues to put pressure on Brussels and now threatens sanctions to European pipe-laying companies.Us senators Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat gene Shaheen have prepared a new bill that provides for the introduction of sanctions against European companies involved in the construction of the Nord stream-2 gas pipeline. In particular, the document allows imposing restrictions against contractors who are engaged in laying pipes on the seabed.
We are talking about Swiss Allseas and Italian Saipem. These companies were not chosen by American senators by chance. As stated in the bill, they use “the technological know-how that Western energy companies have, but that Russia does not have.”A leading analyst of the national energy security Fund, expert of the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation Igor Yushkov explains that if the US manages to impose sanctions against the Swiss Allseas, Gazprom may have serious problems, so it is in the interests of the company as soon as possible to finish construction.
— The question is when exactly the adoption of these sanctions will take place. Construction is quite fast, two pipe-laying vessels are working at the same time, and now about 50% of the gas pipeline has been laid. If the Americans pull, they simply will not have time to impose sanctions, even if they want to.
In addition, it is unclear how possible acceptance of the sanctions in this formulation. Let me remind you that the Americans already have a law adopted in August 2017, which allows imposing restrictions against new gas pipeline projects from Russia to Europe. It gives the President the power to ban financing and construction services. However, if there is such a possibility, Americans do not use it. There are no restrictions against gas pipelines and Gazprom. Therefore, European companies are involved in this project.
“SP”: — If this sanctions bill is still adopted, what does it threaten?
— The described sanctions will mainly affect the Swiss company Allseas. Italian Saipem had a small contract for the construction of a shallow section of pipe that goes to the coast of Germany. These works have already been completed, so it is not exactly threatened with sanctions.
Allseas has more risks because it is she who is working on her two vessels and will continue to lay the gas pipeline. The threat to them is real. But on the other hand, it is a Swiss company, it makes payments to Gazprom in euros. They have no business and assets in the US.
It turns out that it is more profitable for them to keep the contract with Gazprom than to be afraid of the Americans. Moreover, the question is how Americans can punish Allseas if it does not carry out calculations in dollars. It is possible that even in the case of sanctions, the company will not refuse the contract.
“SP”: — And if you refuse, how will it be legal? After all, the contract for laying pipes signed…
— I think it is written in the contract, as initially it was assumed that such sanctions are possible. What exactly is written there, we do not know, because it is a trade secret.
I think the Americans will try to block the possibility of transferring vessels for rent, as this option was considered after the adoption of the law of 2017. Gazprom does not really have its own vessels that could complete the laying of the pipeline. If Washington forces all companies to abandon these works, Gazprom will have big problems. In this case, our company will sue the United States and convince Europeans to continue working.
But such loud statements from the USA we heard a lot. However, in practice, there are no restrictions, because American legislators have not the last word. Probably, Germany and European lobbyists will actively intervene in the situation. Everyone will defend the point of view that it is necessary to at least complete the construction.
It is possible that the Europeans will insist on the following exchange: they adopted amendments to the Gas Directive, which extend the Third energy package to marine gas pipelines, and the Americans do not interfere with the completion of the Nord stream-2
“This is one of the few areas where, in fact, Gazprom lacks technical knowledge and technologies for the construction of pipeline projects,” commented the expert on Eurasian energy issues at the Atlantic Council Agnia Grigas for Foreign Policy magazine.
The bill is modeled on us sanctions against the export of Iranian oil. Individuals and legal entities that sell or lease vessels for use in the construction of Nord stream 2, as well as companies, can fall under restrictions, That is, they are ready to put the gas pipeline in the wheels after it is put into operation, and not at the level of construction? Is there any chance then that Nord stream 2 will receive an exception to the Gas Directive?
— I think that granting an exception is possible because it is quite difficult to justify restrictions against Nord stream 2. The action of the Third energy package, in fact, begins in the sea. It turns out that the European Commission expects that somewhere in the sea there will be alternative suppliers? This sounds even more absurd than in the case of the OPAL pipeline. So, the Europeans should either recognize that these are sanctions or give an exception to the Third energy package.
But, of course, the Americans will continue to put pressure on the European Union and demand that they, in any case, do not provide such an exception. They already openly say that the EU should buy gas from “democratic sources”. That’s what us Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland said the other day. Surely Washington will put pressure on loyal members of the European Union like Poland or the Baltic States to oppose the granting of such an exception.
Therefore, it is difficult to say yet whether the EU will take such a seemingly obvious step and when, since this is clearly not just an economic decision.providing them with financial, technical and insurance support.