On Sunday, it became known about the resumption of the construction of the Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 in the territorial waters of Germany. According to a representative of Nord Stream 2 AG, the Russian vessel Fortuna is laying the pipes in accordance with the permits and statements made by the agencies.
On May 17, the German regulator—the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH)—granted permission to continue the work. According to the document, the pipes must be laid on a 2 km long section located in the exclusive economic zone of Germany.
The agency reported that there is no need to wait until the end of May to start work, since there are currently no Red Book birds in this zone (this was preceded by a lawsuit from ecologists). The pipes are planned to be laid on the seabed, and the assembly should be carried out later.
Last week, the administration of US President Joe Biden lifted sanctions for the operator of Nord Stream 2—Nord Stream 2 AG, and its Managing Director Matthias Warnig. On Wednesday, the State Department sent its mandatory 90-day report to Congress listing companies involved in the pipeline's construction and deserving sanctions.
The document says that Nord Stream 2 AG is involved in activities that are recognized as sanctioned from the point of view of American law. However, the reason for the lifting of the sanctions was that it "would have a negative impact on US relations with Germany, the EU and other European allies and partners."
"Hesitating to impose sanctions against companies that are now involved in laying the pipeline, the United States is transmitting a dangerous message to Russia that will affect the behavior of the Russian Federation far beyond Nord Stream 2," the NJSC believes.
In the opinion of the company, the waiver of sanctions is a wrong signal when Ukraine is facing a large troop concentration near its border, and the peacekeeping process to end the occupation of Crimea and the war in Donbas has come to a standstill.
What will happen next to Nord Stream 2
According to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, lifting the sanctions from Nord Stream 2 will be a defeat for the United States and President Joe Biden personally.
I believe it will be a loss for the United States of America, I believe it will be a personal loss for President Biden. This will be a serious geopolitical victory for the Russian Federation.
President of Ukraine
Launching Nord Stream-2 may mean for Ukraine a decrease or complete cessation of the Russian gas transit. Last year, income from international activities of the GTS Operator of Ukraine amounted to 47.5 billion UAH, the domestic market generated 10.1 billion UAH.
According to Mykhailo Gonchar, an expert on international energy and security relations, Gazprom has never concealed that it wants to achieve the termination of transit through the territory of Ukraine. At the same time, the expert notes that the launch of the gas pipeline may be delayed.
If considering the situation from a purely technical point of view, the first gas pipeline string can be completed by July 4 of this year, as a gift to the Americans for Independence Day. But the question is that the completion of the gas pipeline does not mean putting it into operation. Nord Stream 2 has a lot of problems, including with its certification—after all, it is known that the certifiers and the insurance company withdrew from the project last year. Therefore, pipe laying alone does not mean anything for a system that operates under high pressure.
Expert on international energy and security relations
The launch of the gas pipeline will be a blow to the Ukrainian economy, but not a tragedy, political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko believes.
I see no disaster in the launch of Nord Stream-2. Yes, this will be a sensitive blow to the Ukrainian economy, but it will take place gradually. Actually, we are already experiencing this. The decrease in the flow of Russian gas through our pipeline has been taking place over the past 15 years, and we have already lost more than half. We need to think about the future, think in a project format together with the Europeans and neighboring countries. The focus should be on the energy of the future, including projects related to hydrogen energy. This is now one of the key priorities for Germany.
The work on Gazprom's long-term construction will be completed by the end of the year, says Gennadii Kobal, Director of the company ExPro Consulting Ukraine.
The project has problems with certification, but they can be solved. At the same time, difficulties may arise with filling the gas pipeline. Gazprom will have to look for partners to participate in the project. It will take six months or a year. In the near future, Nord Stream 2 does not threaten Ukraine in any way, since we have a contract with Gazprom for gas pumping for another 3.5 years. Ukraine needs to develop its production, and not worry about its neighbors.
Director of the company ExPro Consulting Ukraine
Context. Nord Stream 2 is an underwater gas pipeline under construction that connects the Russian Federation with Germany through the Baltic Sea. The founder of the project is the Russian Gazprom. The construction cost is estimated at 9.5 billion euros, the design capacity is 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year.
According to Olena Zerkal, advisor to the head of the NJSC Naftogaz board, the launch of the gas pipeline will allow Russia to increase its share of the German gas market from 40 to 60%.
Despite the planned completion of construction in Q4 2019, construction was suspended in December 2019 due to US sanctions against the project's Swiss contractor. In December 2020, Gazprom resumed construction of the gas pipeline on its own. As of March 31, 95% of the pipeline, or 2339 km, had been built.