Germany does not want to abandon the second branch of the Nord Stream and is ready to compromise, so long as the United States does not impose new sanctions against the gas pipeline. According to the local newspaper Die Zeit, Berlin offered Washington to finance the construction of terminals for receiving liquefied natural gas (LNG) for 1 billion euros.
According to the sources of the publication, in August German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz told the head of the US Treasury Stephen Mnuchin Berlin's readiness to invest in the construction of two LNG terminals in the ports of Brunsbüttel and Wilhelmhaven. These facilities will be used to import gas from the United States.
"In return, the United States will allow the completion and launch of Nord Stream 2 without hindrance," Die Zeit quotes an excerpt from Scholz's initiative.
Despite the fact that the United States has nothing to do with Nord Stream 2, Washington has spoken out against the project more often than other states. Actually, the United States imposed sanctions on the gas pipeline a couple of months before its commissioning: there were only 6.5% to be completed. The Swiss pipe-laying company Allseas, fearing US sanctions, withdrew its vessels from the Baltic Sea, and the domestic ship Akademik Chersky went to complete the SP-2 construction. The date for commissioning the gas pipeline has shifted to the end of this year.
But after hospitalization Alexey Navalny Washington turned on the sanctions rhetoric again: Donald Trump demanded to stop construction. The American leader noted that the United States "defends Germany from Russia," while Germany buys two-thirds of its energy resources from the Russian Federation and pays "billions" for it.
Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel continues to support SP-2 and believes that Navalny's case should not interfere with the construction of the gas pipeline.
The states, where the ban on the export of energy resources was lifted several years ago, are interested in the European market, but due to the logistics, American liquefied natural gas is more expensive than Russian.
There are currently no LNG terminals in Germany. The country receives liquefied natural gas through its neighbors: Belgium and the Netherlands. The terminal in Wilhelmshaven is planned to be commissioned in 2022, its capacity will be up to 10 billion cubic meters of gas per year. The construction company Uniper has already ordered a vessel from the Japanese firm Mitsiu to receive and regasify LNG. The capacity of the second terminal in Brunsbüttel will not exceed 5 billion cubic meters; it is also planned to be commissioned in the second half of 2022.
For the American liquefied natural gas to become a competitor to the Russian one, LNG terminals with the same capacity as Nord Stream 2 should appear in Germany, says independent industrial expert Leonid Khazanov.
“For understanding: the productivity of the world's largest LNG terminal Al-Zur, which is currently being built in Kuwait, should amount to about 31 billion cubic meters with an investment of $ 2.9 billion. Let me remind you that Nord Stream 2 has a capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year. Accordingly, LNG terminals in Brunsbüttel and Wilhelmshaven will not be able to completely replace Nord Stream 2. And the United States will have to significantly increase its LNG exports. Last year, the United States supplied 51.5 billion cubic meters to the world market, which clearly does not reach the volume of Nord Stream 2, ”the expert notes.
He recalls that two years ago, Germany and the United States discussed a project to build an LNG terminal at the mouth of the Elbe, but then the matter did not go further. “I would also remind you that the price of American LNG may turn out to be at least 20-40% more expensive than Russian pipeline gas due to the logistical features of its delivery and the cost of liquefaction. Berlin may agree to the construction of LNG terminals, seeing only the prospects for growth in demand for natural gas in the country, but in this case it will continue to provide support, at least political, to Nord Stream 2, "Khazanov said.
Yes, Germany cannot just take and abandon the SP-2. If Berlin revokes permission to build a gas pipeline for political reasons, the Nord Stream 2 operator will file a lawsuit, and the damage could reach the cost of the entire project: 9.5 billion euros. According to the head of the German gas association Zukunft Erdgas Timma Koehler, if the construction site is frozen, "investments in the amount of 8 billion euros will have to be written off." And this is not to mention the fact that if there is no SP-2, then there will be no thousands of jobs in Germany.