World

Dispute about Nord Stream 2: Moscow warns of obstacles

Dispute about Nord Stream 2: Moscow warns of obstacles

The dispute concerns a €9.5 billion project called Nord Stream 2 to carry gas from Russian Federation by running two pipelines beneath the Baltic, in addition to an existing pair.

It is trying to look beyond Russian gas - to imports of USA liquified natural gas (LNG) and new pipelines, such as a planned Norway-Poland pipeline via Denmark, that would supply Sweden and other neighbouring states.

In a joint op-ed published by Germany's Deutsche Welle, the US ambassadors to Germany, Denmark, and the European Union on February 7 urged EU member states to support the proposed change in the EU regulations.

Under the compromise, which threatened to open a rift between the EU's two most powerful countries, Berlin will remain the lead negotiator on the project.

The EU executive wants a say over how Nord Stream 2 is used before its construction, which involves European companies, is completed.




France had earlier chose to support amendments to the Gas Directive that would give the European Commission more powers over the Russian-European Nord Stream 2 pipeline, while Germany continued to oppose the move. The French government has earned credit this week for being prepared to stand firm against one such effort, a gas pipeline stretching from Russian Federation to Germany, despite provoking the ire of Germany. The compromise proposal would have nearly agreed by all European Union member States. "Now that there's a compromise, this will one way or another reinforce the commission", a diplomat from one anti-Nord Stream 2 European Union country said.

In the United States, a bipartisan group of senators drafted a resolution calling for the cancellation of the pipeline project, and leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said they would take up the resolution at their next business meeting. "We still believe that this project is beneficial to both the European gas consumers' interests and to Russian Federation as gas supplier", he said. "Russia has been in wait-and-see mode, but this compromise gives the European Commission major leverage", said one of the sources.

However, an attempt to implement new regulations mid-way through the Nord Stream 2 project are nearly certain to run into legal challenges from Russian Federation, said Katja Yafimava, a senior research fellow at Britain's Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.

The draft compromise sought to tackle concerns over Ukraine saying: "We consider a (gas rules) directive in this spirit indispensable for a fruitful discussion on the future gas transit through Ukraine". The pipeline project has been welcomed by some countries in Europe, including Austria, but opposed by others.

German officials were keen Friday to downplay suggestions of a Franco-German rift, arguing that Paris and Berlin have a strong relationship that allows them to resolve differences. Gas is due to start arriving in Germany by the end of the year.


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