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Sep 4, 2022
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In Germany, they threatened to dismantle the SP-2: how realistic is it

The leaders of the Free Democratic Party of Germany, which is part of the ruling coalition of the German Bundestag, demanded the dismantling of Nord Stream 2. According to the German democrats, the gas pipeline was originally a “Kremlin geopolitical project”, and its creation caused significant diplomatic isolation of Berlin. How technically it is possible to dismantle the export pipeline, the construction of which cost almost 10 billion euros, said Igor Yushkov, a leading analyst at the National Energy Security Fund and an expert at the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation.

– Representatives of the FDP – one of the leading political forces of Germany – called for the dismantling of the Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. At the same time, they demanded “the speedy development of the concept of legal, technical and environmental guarantees for this process.” But after all, gas from this pipe, which was invested by German companies, is primarily intended for European buyers, who are now in distress due to a shortage of energy resources. Are the Germans really going to cut the branch they are sitting on?

— The offshore branch of the Nord Stream 2 international gas pipeline is wholly owned by the Swiss company Nord Stream 2 (a subsidiary of Gazprom), which is the operator of the project. The German owners partially control Eugal’s onshore branch, which was purpose-built to deliver gas to end consumers from the offshore line of the raw material route. The land line was aimed at increasing supplies to Europe bypassing Ukraine. Since the exit of this pipeline from the Baltic Sea is located directly near the beginning of the onshore part of Nord Stream 1, the Eugal onshore pipes have until recently been used as an additional channel for the supply of raw materials for the first part of the gas transmission project.

– That is, it is this part that is proposed to be disassembled?

– Apparently not. We are talking about a 12-mile stretch (a little over 22 km – N.M.), which brings the offshore part of Nord Stream 2 directly to the onshore branch of the German distribution system (the total length of the gas pipeline is 1234 km –

N.M.). This branch was completed in 2020, long before the official, but never completed, launch of the new gas pipeline into operation. Germany can legally justify the dismantling of pipes at this distance in any way – these are the territorial waters of the German state. Therefore, no matter how absurd they may seem, Berlin can explain its actions in these waters with arguments that do not go beyond the framework of international legal law.

– But the deputies of the Bundestag are not talking about some 12 miles, but about dismantling the entire gas pipeline …

– Firstly, since the pipeline is almost entirely owned by Gazprom, such an intention would violate the rights of the owners of the raw material route, that is, the Russian company. Secondly, we should not forget that Nord Stream 2 is currently completely filled with buffer gas and is under serious pressure. In order to start dismantling, which it is not yet clear who will do it and for what money, it is necessary to pump out the gas filling the pipes now. And this raw material belongs to Gazprom. If this case is taken up by a third-party contracting company, attracted by German officials, then it will either have to settle the relevant issues with Gazprom, or pump gas at its own peril and risk. Since the Russian company as the owner will be able to claim rights to raw materials and demand in court compensation for the irrational consumption of hydrocarbons, and possibly even for its theft.

– Isn’t it possible to pump out the gas that is in the pipe at a distance of 12 miles from the German coast, and not go to the “Russian” side of the gas pipeline?

– The fact of the matter is that we will have to pump out all the gas up to the Leningrad region. By emptying pipes that Germany could theoretically take control of (12 miles from the coast), the companies involved would also have to be responsible for the gas in the pipe in Russian-controlled territory. Quite a paradoxical situation. The Germans will not have any legal justification for such actions.

So what do the leaders of the German party propose?

– In fact, they propose to dismantle someone else’s gas pipeline and steal gas that does not belong to them.

– Suppose such a decision is made by official Berlin. Who will pay for this?

– Completely incomprehensible. Work is needed, in terms of volume commensurate with the creation of a gas pipeline. First, it will be necessary to prepare a special project, similar in complexity to the construction project of Nord Stream 2 itself, and accompanied by documentation that involves an assessment of environmental costs. Further, it will be necessary to select a pool of companies that are not only ready, but also technically capable of dismantling such an object. It will be necessary to carry out specific work: cut the pipe at the required distance, completely clog the branch fragments, and so on. These are tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars, which no one is going to invest at the current stage of the energy confrontation between Russia and the West, and against the backdrop of raging disagreements in the EU.

So you don’t believe in the reality of such a development of events?

– The situation reminds me of the theater of the absurd: Europeans are going to spend millions to eliminate a thing that does not work anyway, since its operation is limited by the legal requirements of Europe itself. The question arises: do the countries of the Old World themselves do not believe in their own legal possibilities, and for their confirmation it is not enough just a law, but you also need to destroy a completely new technological object at your own expense – just to make sure that the speculative initiative will work.

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