Against the backdrop of a sharp rise in natural gas prices and the aggravation of the risks of an energy crisis, the topic of putting the Nord Stream 2 pipeline into operation is coming to the fore in the discussions of European politicians. Moreover, despite the sanctions and the anti-Russian position, there are more and more European politicians speaking in favor of such a decision every day. The other day, the Vice Speaker of the German Bundestag, Wolfgang Kubiki, said that the “blue fuel” exported through this line will not differ in any way from other hydrocarbons, so Germany should not miss the opportunity to prepare for winter and fill underground storage facilities to capacity.
Wolfgang Kubiki’s statement, of course, does not mean that official Berlin suddenly changed its anti-Russian policy and began to support the launch of Nord Stream 2. A whole coalition of German politicians opposes such a decision, one of the central figures of which can be considered German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who ruled out the possibility of operating the pipeline even in the event of a difficult situation with energy supply in the coming months. However, the number of high-profile supporters of the project in Germany, whose officials are theoretically able to give the go-ahead to connect the gas route to the distribution networks of the Old World, even despite the general sanctions of the European Union, also continues to grow. For example, according to Klaus Ernst, head of the Bundestag energy committee, it would be wise for Berlin to negotiate gas with Russia, since it is not in Germany’s interests to suffer from its own sanctions.
It is curious that the arguments endorsing the use of Nord Stream 2 may also be of the opposite nature: some experts from the Old World are calling for the launch of the gas pipeline in order to deprive the Kremlin of energy leverage on European consumers of Russian energy resources. Be that as it may, as the autumn-winter heating season approaches, the topic of launching the Russian export gas pipeline is becoming more and more relevant in Europe. Assess possible scenarios for the development of events “MK” asked the Russian experts of the energy complex.
Artem DEEV, head of the analytical department at AMarkets:
“The launch of Nord Stream 2 will not finally solve the problem of the European Union with the supply of Russian gas. Until recently, our country exported about 170-180 billion gas per year to the EU states via five routes at once (Nord Stream 1, Yamal-Europe, Turkish Stream, the OPAL gas pipeline branch and the Ukrainian gas transmission system). The maximum capacity of Nord Stream 2 is 55 billion cubic meters per year. Of course, if we assume that supplies on other routes will remain stable, then the capacity of the new pipe will be excessive. But now, a strong reduction in supplies has been noted along all routes – the same Nord Stream – 1 operates only at 20%. In addition, do not forget that as a result of the unfriendly actions of European politicians, the volume of Nord Stream 2 loading with Russian raw materials, if the pipeline is launched, will be halved. According to the EU antimonopoly law, instead of 55 billion cubic meters per year, Russia will be able to supply only 27.5 billion cubic meters, and the rest will need to be reserved for supplies from third-country producers.
So, the launch of SP-2, even in an extreme situation, will not fix the problem of energy shortages in Europe. Moreover, the gas pipeline will be filled with raw materials gradually and reaching the permitted volumes will take at least 3-6 months. Thus, Europe will still lack gas in winter.
Meanwhile, even the very fact of the launch of Nord Stream 2 can lead to a strong drop in prices for raw materials: stock exchanges always react by lowering quotations to news about the start of operation of new routes and the receipt of additional volumes of raw materials on the continent’s market. If the EU allows the launch of Nord Stream 2, then gas prices may halve from the current level of $ 2,400-2,500 per thousand cubic meters. This will be of great help to the Europeans, who are suffering from record high inflation, the reasons for which lie in the rising cost of energy.
Mark GOIKHMAN, chief analyst at TeleTrade:
“For many years, opponents of Nord Stream 2 in Europe have argued that the commissioning of this gas pipeline will increase Moscow’s pressure on the Old World. Now, some high-ranking EU representatives are expressing the opposite opinion: the launch of the project, they say, will “disarm” Russia in its attempts at energy and political diktat. Nevertheless, Europe has taken a long-term strategic course to reduce dependence on Russian hydrocarbons. The EU has already completely abandoned coal from our country and plans to impose an embargo on 90% of the supply of oil and petroleum products in late 2022 – early 2023. In the long run of several years, the rejection of the “blue fuel” is also possible. Therefore, it is not worth talking about a strategic increase in Moscow’s pressure in this area in principle.
Rather, such statements from Europe are heard in an effort to justify consent to the launch of Nord Stream 2 proposed by Russia, without losing its “political face” in the face of a shortage of energy resources. In any case, the strengthening or lifting of anti-Russian sanctions will have little to do with the operation of the new gas pipeline.”
Sergei PRAVOSUDOV, Director of the National Energy Institute:
“It is not surprising that the discussion of the possibility of launching Nord Stream 2 is escalating precisely in Germany, since the formal commissioning of the gas pipeline depends solely on the officials of this country. Let me remind you that the project was certified by the Federal Network Agency of Germany. After the escalation of Moscow’s relations with the West, the German Ministry of Economics withdrew its review of the impact of Nord Stream 2 on the German energy sector, in connection with which the certification process was suspended. At the same time, no German or pan-European sanctions were imposed on the gas pipeline. If the Federal Grid Agency of the Federal Republic of Germany resumes the pipe certification procedure, the European legislation should not have any grounds against the start of the operation of the route. However, by agreeing to the launch of Nord Stream 2, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is one of the most ardent opponents of the gas pipeline, will in fact throw a “white flag”, recognizing that not only Germany, but the entire collective West has been powerless to counteract dependence on Russian energy resources” .