Like it or not, with Nord Stream 2, Putin has a foot on the gas Europe badly needs
By SEAMLESS DAILY
10 October 2021
After years of debate in Germany and beyond, the Russian state-backed energy giant Gazprom confirmed last month that it had finished building Nord Stream 2, a 760-mile pipeline with the potential to send 55bn cubic metres of gas under the Baltic Sea to Germany every year.
It was a move that cooled markets and followed intense pressure from Europe and the International Energy Agency, the world's energy watchdog, to boost supplies.
the nord stream 2 would be a cheaper and more efficient source of supply.
If Gazprom really wished to cool markets, it could book further capacity for gas supply via pipes through Poland and Ukraine.
Indeed, there are signs that Russia has been increasing supply in the past two days, and once Gazprom has hit a November deadline of being fully stocked for this winter's domestic demand, even more gas should be available for Europeans.
But as Europe closes its coal mines and gears up its wind turbines, there will be a difficult transition period.
While ostensibly a private-sector project, it is clearly under Vladimir Putin ’ s control.
Some additionally argue that the growth of the liquefied natural gas market ( LNG ) makes pipelines and Nord Stream 2 less relevant.
Most LNG is locked into long-term contracts – the majority of which are destined for Asia.
Putin is not a man Europe wants to do business with.
But the global energy crunch has given him and his pet project a powerful negotiating position – one that may force Europe's hand.
Meanwhile, the government's slow and ill-conceived "action" on resolving the issue is pushing industry into finding creative solutions.
It follows a stark warning by defence secretary Ben Wallace that the Russian premier was using its energy supplies as a weapon against Western interests.
"We see some countries use energy, migration, cyber and organised crime as weapons," he said.
Gas prices have risen eightfold since January for a myriad of global factors of which economies emerging from the Covid pandemic is just one.
Both Nigeria and Norway, major Liquid Natural Gas suppliers, exported less, while Brazil and Asia imported more natural gas and LNG than expected, depleting already low stocks.
Although Britain only relies on Russia for only three percent of its natural gas imports, it is nevertheless affected by the knock-on effect of rising global prices.
This was born out by Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who yesterday angrily rebuked the UK's stance.
"Russia is not restricting anything," he said.
"There is a widespread hope in Europe that we 're going to get out of the gas business to release ourselves from reliance on Russian gas.
"And, though many warn against the security threat of allowing NordStream2, what this crisis shows is that Russia has market power with or without it.
"The real risk of allowing NS2 isn't to the EU, which will gradually use it less, but to Ukraine, through which Russia's pipelines currently pass, giving Kiev sizable revenues.
It needs Western revenue as much as the West needs its gas.
"We need to be as ruthlessly pragmatic as possible.
“ Dr Jade McGlynn, of the Henry Jackson Society added : "Russia does need the money and wants to come across as a reliable supplier to Western Europe.
This is an opportunity and they will try to use it to increase their standing.
Not only will it make Europe more dependent on Russia, but it will also badly undermine Ukraine, which will lose lucrative transit fees.
Now it's 48 per cent.
Today he says that "ministers, officials and regulators forgot that systems are more than the sum of their parts, and the security of supply is a public, not a private, good".
In such a volatile period, the current approach must be reversed.
Critics say the pipeline would increase European dependency on Russian natural gas and have geopolitical implications.
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