La Croix (France): the US is trying to block Russian gas pipeline

After threats USA got down to business. During a press conference on 15 July, the head of American diplomacy Mike Pompeo mentioned the possibility of imposing more stringent sanctions to prevent the commissioning of the pipeline “Nord stream — 2”. The gas pipeline under the Baltic sea to Germany, should increase the volume of Russian gas supplies to Western Europe.

“Get out,” asked Mike Pompeo to foreign project participants. And those who disobey, expect big trouble. A week after this statement by the American Congress took in the debate on the defense budget an amendment that confirms new sanctions against companies involved in the “Nord stream — 2”. We are talking about any investment made after July 15. 2020. Hurt not only investors, but also pipe-laying machines, as well as companies that offer insurance services or facilities for the modernization of vessels for pipeline construction of the pipeline.

Russian threat

The USA is still determined to block the project which, in their opinion, will allow Russia to capture the European gas market. They have already taken the first series of sanctions in accordance with the law “On protection of energy security in Europe”, which was published at the end of December 2019.

Diplomat Chris Robinson, responsible for relations with Russia, the U.S. state Department, said that other European countries were against the construction of the pipeline: “Today, we join the voice of Europeans who are concerned about the aggressive attitude of Russia.” “Nord stream — 2” will compete with terrestrial pipelines that run through the Baltic States, Poland and Ukraine, depriving them of income.

The cost of the pipeline is around ten billion euros. Its construction half-funded by Russia’s Gazprom and half — European companies, including German “Wintershall” and “Uniper” Anglo-Dutch “Shell”, the French “Engie” and the Austrian OMV. Each company promised to invest 950 million euros.

The restrictive measures adopted by the USA in the end of 2019, was forced to leave the project of Swiss company “Allseas” that slowed construction.

Answering the question about the risks associated with this toughening of US policy, “Engie”, said that she is studying the new us course.

The Reaction Of Europe

After the statements Mike Pompeo, Germany, the main beneficiary of the project, spoke sharply about it. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas recalled that the European energy policy is made in Europe, not in Washington. “Extraterritorial sanctions, we firmly reject”.

More harshly by the former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who headed the Board of Directors of the company “Nord stream — 2”. In an interview with “Handelsblatt”, he said that measures U.S. mean “the end of the transatlantic partnership.”

Still 120 km

Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell also expressed growing concern about the developments in US policy. He stated that “the European Union opposes the use of sanctions by third countries against the European companies engaged in legitimate activities.”

In fact, American sanctions have led to the temporary suspension of construction of the gas pipeline “Nord stream — 2”. “Gazprom” had to complete construction of the last section. The Russian company expects to enter the pipeline in operation by the beginning of 2021. As for the last 120 kilometers, they are located in the waters of Denmark. July 22 Mike Pompeo needs to arrive on a visit to Copenhagen to discuss issues of common interest.

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Delivery of the EU

The main suppliers of gas to the EU are Russia (39% of imports), Norway (26%) and Algeria (12%). Russia is also one of the main suppliers of oil and coal in the EU.

After the Ukrainian crisis, violated deliveries in several countries, the EU is trying to diversify its gas suppliers and to ensure the unanimity among countries in terms of trade and storage.