Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (Germany): will finish Russia “Nord stream — 2” yourself?

Construction of the pipeline “Nord stream — 2”, laid on the Baltic sea, for several months frozen because of the threat of sanctions from the United States. But recently on the island of rügen arrived Russian specialized ship, and there were rumors that Russia still plans to finish the pipeline on their own.

The hope of Russia is 150 meters long and 40 meters wide, and for several days in the port of Mukran near Sassnitz on rügen. The ship-laying vessel “Akademik Chersky”. A few weeks it went up and down the oceans: in February it left the port of Nakhodka on the shore of the Japanese watching, and then the crew routinely submitted conflicting signals as to the purpose of travel.

At first it was about Singapore, then of the Suez canal, then South Africa, but eventually the ship came to Kaliningrad and then to rügen. And the closer was “academic plan” to the Baltic sea, the more active in the Russian power circles, there have been increasing rumors that the owner will provide to the group “Gazprom” for the purpose of completing the construction of the notorious gas pipeline “Nord stream — 2” on their own.

The goal of this project is to double the capacity of the pipeline connecting Russia and Germany under the Baltic sea, from 55 to 110 billion cubic meters of gas per year. But in the U.S. late last year passed a law providing for sanctions against the project, and Swiss company Allseas immediately withdrew their ships from the Baltic. The construction of the pipeline became the subject of bitter dispute between Russia, Europe and the United States. Washington argued that the “Nord stream — 2” increases the dependence of Europe from Russia. Moscow is really so it would be easier to limit the supply of gas to neighbors from which it is more independent from the transit of “blue fuel”. Berlin, in turn, criticized the U.S. sanctions, calling them interference in European Affairs.

US threatens sanctions Gazprom

Since thoughts around the world turn first to the pandemic coronavirus, the dispute seemed to have faded into the background, especially because Washington felt safe. Back in February, U.S. energy Secretary Dan Browett (Dan Brouillette) spoke at the international security conference in Munich that Russia is not able to finish the construction “Nord stream — 2” without foreign aid. But since “Academic Chersky” arrived on rügen, it again went on that Russia is still able to finish the construction. Port Mukran near Sassnitz, where a Russian ship dropped anchor, considered one of the logistic centres with the construction of the pipeline. There are pipes for the last 150 miles. There is also the Russian construction platform “Fortuna”, which can be used in the immediate vicinity of the coast. News Agency Bloomberg in early may, has published satellite images of the port and came to the conclusion that the pipes are ready for shipment.

“Academician of the Chersky” — really the only Russian ship that is theoretically able to continue the laying of the pipeline. He has a dynamic positioning system, the presence of which is obligatory for ships, pipelayers, according to the requirements of the Danish authorities.

The seriousness of the situation, obviously, and aware of criticism of the second Nord stream in the United States. Influential Senator and friend of trump’s party Ted Cruz (Ted Cruz) has recently threatened sanctions against Gazprom, if it uses its own vessel in the construction of the pipeline. In this case the Russian company will no longer be able to conduct business in the United States and will lose access to their property on their territory.

“Nord stream — 2” for Russia — a matter of principle

Gazprom did not give official comment on their plans. However, the Deputy Director of the Institute for national energy security Alexey Grivach, which is considered among industry insiders a kind of mouthpiece of Gazprom, did not think that the concern is afraid of sanctions. “For Russia, this project is a matter of principle,” he explained. He had no doubt that the “academic plan” will be used in the further construction of the second Nord stream, the more that the vessel is owned by a subsidiary of Gazprom, which is already included in us sanctions lists.

Without additional equipment the ship is useless

However, there is no doubt that the emergence of “Academician Chersky” on rügen means the output of the pipeline to the finish line. Independent experts, in particular the partner of consulting company Rusenergy Michael Krutikhin, indicate that the ship is in need of retrofitting a new welding apparatus. It was back in December last year admitted Minister of energy of Russia Alexander Novak. And in January of this year, Gazprom announced a tender to equip the ship with new equipment. However, the data on the Russian public procurement website says that while there were no companies ready to guarantee the execution of this order.

When and where are assumed to be construction work, it is not clear, but many are afraid of the threat of us sanctions.

However, the economic reasons for the haste Gazprom has no. Mild winter, filled the gas storage and the global isolation due to pandemic coronavirus led to the fall of demand for Russian gas. In March, exports fell by a quarter compared to the same period last year. This year Russian has adjusted its plans for the export of down — to 166 billion cubic meters. Thus in 2019, the exports amounted to about 200 billion.