Nord Stream

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Course of the Nord Stream pipeline and its connection

The Nord Stream (Russian: Северный поток), formerly the North European Gas Pipeline, NEGP , also known as the Baltic Sea Pipeline , is a system of underwater gas pipelines that run from Russia to Germany . The first two strands of the pipeline ( Nord Stream 1 ) were inaugurated in November 2011 and run from Vyborg to Lubmin near Greifswald .

The subsequent, similar Nord Stream 2 project also consists of two tubes and runs roughly parallel in terms of geography. The laying work on the first strand was completed on June 4, 2021. According to Gazprom, both the two Nord Stream 1 lines taken together and the two Nord Stream 2 pipes each have a nominal transport capacity of 55 billion  Nm³ per year, corresponding to around 550 TWh / a or 63 GW of continuous heating value .

Nord Stream AG is owned and operated by Nord Stream AG , whose shares are held by Gazprom (51%), Wintershall , E.ON , Gasunie and Engie . Nord Stream 2 is owned by Nord Stream 2 AG , which is wholly owned by the majority-owned Russian Gazprom group.

Nord Stream 1

Framework data

course

The Baltic Sea pipeline begins in Vyborg, Russia and reaches Germany in Lubmin near Greifswald . It has a length of 1,224 kilometers and connects the Yuzhno-Russkoye and Stockmann gas fields in the Barents Sea with the sales market in Germany. The pipeline runs - apart from the start and end point - exclusively through sea areas that are not assigned to any sovereign territory of a neighboring country . The crossed sea areas are, however, in the exclusive economic zones of Sweden , Finland and Denmark . As a result of the necessary approval procedures, these countries were able to influence the construction of the pipeline.

Transport capacity

According to a press release from Nord Stream AG , 58.8 billion cubic meters of gas were transported through the two tubes of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to the EU in 2018. In 2019 it was 58.5 billion cubic meters and in 2020 59.2 billion cubic meters.

building-costs

According to Nord Stream AG, the cost of building the pipeline was around 7.4 billion euros; originally the company had assumed “more than 4 billion euros”. This makes the pipeline project one of the largest private investments in European infrastructure to date. The total costs were financed 30% from the participating companies' own resources and 70% from loans.

Planning and construction

planning

Largest pipelines that transport natural gas from Russia to the EU

The proposal to build a pipeline through the Baltic Sea was first made in 1995. Initially, a route via Finland , Sweden and Denmark to Germany was planned. Since 1997 Gazprom has been carrying out feasibility studies for an underwater pipeline through the Baltic Sea with the Finnish energy supplier Fortum . Fortum withdrew from the project in 2005.

During the negotiation phase, Gazprom, Wintershall and E.ON Ruhrgas disagreed about the means by which German-Russian gas trading should be expanded. E.ON Ruhrgas saw the establishment of another pipeline via Belarus and Poland and the expansion of the transit options in Ukraine as a cheaper alternative to an underwater pipeline. Wintershall concentrated on existing joint projects with Gazprom in the Russian upstream sector and saw the construction of an underwater pipeline as secondary. In contrast to the German companies involved, the construction of the later Nord Stream pipeline was of great importance for Gazprom. The construction was supposed to bypass Ukraine as a transit country. The CEO Rem Vyachirev said in 2000: “I will complete the pipeline to bypass Ukraine while I am still alive.” The pipeline remained of great strategic importance for the group even after the change of CEO to Alexei Miller . Due to the different priorities set by Gazprom, E.ON Ruhrgas and Wintershall, the declaration of intent for the construction of the pipeline was signed in July 2004 one year later than planned. E.ON Ruhrgas agreed to participate in the pipeline project and was given access to projects in Russian oil production. Gazprom had been expanding its cooperation with Wintershall through BASF since 2003.

On April 11, 2005, the agreements were formalized in the presence of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and President Vladimir Putin . It was decided to include Wingas in the operator consortium. In the following months, Vyborg and Greifswald were set as the endpoints and the seabed was examined for the pipe laying. On September 8, 2005, the basic agreement between Gazprom, Wintershall and E.ON Ruhrgas was signed in the presence of Schröder and Putin. The signing had been brought forward because of the federal elections. It was decided to found an operating company in Switzerland . Gazprom should have a 51% stake and the two German companies should reduce their shares from 24.5% each in order to add a fourth project partner to the consortium. In addition, the installation of a second line of cables was determined.

The plans for the construction of the Baltic Sea pipeline were initially supported by the EU and the project was given priority in the Trans-European Networks program in 2000 . However, the attitude towards the project changed in part when Russia blocked gas deliveries to Ukraine at the end of 2005 due to unpaid bills (see Russian-Ukrainian gas dispute ). This also led to delivery failures to the EU at short notice. In the Central and Northeast European EU member states, which are particularly dependent on Russian natural gas supplies, skepticism about the planned Baltic Sea pipeline increased after these events. At the EU level, the events accelerated the deliberations to develop a separate external energy policy and to diversify more energy sources, suppliers and transport routes in the future. In this context, it was decided to support the construction of another gas pipeline bypassing Russia from the Black Sea to Austria ( Nabucco pipeline ).

The project also provided for the possibility of building junctions to Poland and Latvia , but these have so far been strictly rejected by both countries. The Czech Republic will be connected via the Baltic Sea Pipeline (OPAL) branching off in Lubmin, and a connection to the German gas network is planned via the Northern European Natural Gas Pipeline (NEL) and the NORDAL pipeline, which is currently being planned.

construction

The owner and operator is Nord Stream AG , headquartered in Zug , Switzerland, in which the German Chancellor a. D. Gerhard Schröder and also the former Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen are busy. The name of the pipeline has since been changed to Nord Stream .

On December 9, 2005, construction work began on the Russian land section of the pipeline in Babajewo . Pipes for the pipeline were also stored in the Sassnitz ( Rügen ) ferry port until they were laid . Before being laid with a special ship, they were encased in concrete and endlessly welded on the ship on site. The steel pipes are divided into 13 meter segments, have an inside diameter of 1.153 m, a wall thickness between 27 and 41 millimeters, design pressures of 220/200/170 bar and a mass of 11 tons. With a 60–150 mm concrete jacket, the mass increases to 25 tonnes each, so that it rests well on the seabed, even when filled with air.

Loading of the concrete-coated pipes in the port of Slite on Gotland

After the government of Denmark, in November 2009 the governments of Finland and Sweden granted permission to build the Nord Stream pipes through their respective Exclusive Economic Zones . Approval from Germany followed on December 21. The planning approval decision was valid for the 50-kilometer section of the route in the area of ​​responsibility of the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania . On December 28, 2009, the approval for the 32 kilometer long section in the exclusive economic zone of Germany was given by the responsible Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH).

President Dmitry Medvedev officially opens the pipe laying in the underwater section, April 9, 2010

The first pipe in the pipeline from Vyborg in Russia to Lubmin near Greifswald in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania was laid on the sea floor by the pipelayer Castoro Sei on April 6, 2010 .

The pipe sections were delivered by ship, craned up, first in pairs, and then also welded on deck to the end of the pipeline, which was slowly, supported by a drain ramp several hundred meters long, the stinger, gently bent and lowered under tension towards the seabed. Every weld seam - thin on the inside, a "V" on the outside - was checked with ultrasound and magnetically and repaired if necessary. After the corrosion protection, each joint was covered with shrink tubing and potting with PU resin in a stable but repairable manner. In this way, three kilometers of pipeline could be manufactured and laid per day.

From mid-2010, two other laying vessels, the Castoro 10 and the Solitaire , were used, with the former laying the less deep-lying sections at the east and west ends. The pipeline was mostly laid freely on selected flat spots on the sea bed, but in the area of ​​shipping routes or near the landing sites in a trench that was filled with sand to provide protection from anchors . Contrary to the original plan, the Danish island of Bornholm was avoided to the south instead of north with eight kilometers.

From May 15, 2010, extensive dredging work was carried out along the route within the Greifswald Bodden ; it was completed at the end of 2010. From the landing point of the gas pipeline, just to the east of the approach from the port of Lubmin, via Neptungrund , Schumachergrund , east of the “Landtief” fairway , the laying work for both pipe strings was carried out through the Castoro 10 laying gantry .

Landfall of the Nord Stream near Lubmin

The Nord Stream AG has completed the first strand of the pipeline on time in 2012. The second strand of the Nord Stream pipeline was laid through the Baltic Sea by spring 2012. After cleaning the three laid areas of this string, they were welded so that gas has been able to flow here since October 2012.

In 2013, the concrete planning of one or two further 1250 km long strings with a diameter of 1200 mm each, essentially parallel to the two existing strings, from Russia to Germany (landing point Lubmin or Vierow) was started. With the construction of the other two lines, Nord Stream's annual capacity would double to 110 billion cubic meters of gas.

The feed pressure (as of 2014) is 220 bar on the Russian side and 110 bar on the German side. The wall thicknesses are adapted to this pressure curve.

Construction logistics

For the (so far) two-strand pipeline, a total of 200,000 pipes, each twelve meters in length and weighing around twelve tons, were required. For the first line, Europipe (Mülheim / Ruhr) delivered 75,000 and the Russian manufacturer OMK ( Wyksa ) 25,000 pipes. In Germany, 15 freight trains with 100 pipes each were driven by DB Schenker Rail to the Sassnitz (Mukran) ferry port every week  . In Russia, the large pipes were transported by the RŽD to the Finnish seaport of Kotka . In both seaports there were special factories in which the steel pipes were encased with concrete to double their mass of 25 t to ensure that the pipes remain on the seabed despite the buoyancy of "the gas" and do not float. The pipes weighted down in this way were shipped from Mukran to the Swedish interim storage facilities Karlskrona and Slite , and from Kotka they were then sent to the Finnish interim storage facility in Hanko . The location of the total of five pipe bearings was chosen so that the distance to a pipe-laying point did not exceed 100  nautical miles . This enabled the number of pipe feeder ships to be limited to three. The laying of the first line began in spring 2010 with a special pipe-laying ship .

opening

At the beginning of September 2011, work began on building up the operating pressure required for the transport of natural gas on the first line laid. The official inauguration took place on November 8, 2011 by Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev .

Criticism and interests

A sometimes heated debate had developed about the Baltic Sea pipeline. - During the German election campaign in 2005 , this was part of the party-political dispute.

Germany and Russia

Thanks to the Baltic Sea pipeline, Germany has secured contractual access to Russian gas reserves and thus several strategic advantages. There are no transit countries and the associated potential political tensions that could have a negative impact on deliveries to Germany. In view of the higher emissions from traditional domestic coal- fired power generation and the agreed nuclear phase-out , natural gas is a useful alternative energy source. Critics complain that the natural gas supply with the pipeline is tied even more closely to the previous main supplier Russia. This dependency not only harbors the risk of a price increase that is detrimental to the economy due to a Russian monopoly , but also political risks.

The reason for the German consent was partly assumed to be personal interests of Gerhard Schröder, who two weeks after leaving office as Federal Chancellor, at the suggestion of the Russian side, became chairman of the supervisory board of the pipeline operating company NEGP Company . Because of the perceived close proximity of the red-green government to the Russian energy sector, Chancellor Schröder was referred to in the media as “Gerdprom” and the project as the “Schröder Pipeline”. Schröder rejected this assertion, claiming that the interests of Germany and Europe alone had induced him to accept the position.

Russia will be able to guarantee gas exports to Western Europe directly. In this way, both the supplier and the consumer will in future be independent of difficulties caused by transit countries, for example if they do not want to accept price adjustments to the European level. Until now, transit countries have been able to use crossing their territory as a means of pressure to enforce exclusive delivery conditions for themselves, and thus endanger the security of supply in Western Europe.

Controversy about the guarantee from the German federal government

In June 2005, Deutsche Bank board member Tessen von Heydebreck and Gazprom CEO Alexej Miller met in Vilnius and they discussed a loan from Deutsche Bank and the state-owned KfW banking group amounting to one billion euros - borne in equal parts of 500 million Euros per bank - for the construction of the feeder between the Yuzhno-Russkoye gas field (majority shareholder BASF subsidiary Wintershall) and the port city of Vyborg . The loan should be secured by a guarantee. The two banks then commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers AG , which takes care of guarantees for foreign companies on behalf of the federal government. Four days after the federal election, on September 22nd of the same year, the banks presented their plans to the inter-ministerial committee for issuing guarantees. The committee was composed of the finance, foreign and development aid ministries under the leadership of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The Chancellery was not represented there. On October 24, two weeks after Schröder's announcement that he would withdraw from politics, the committee met again and approved the guarantee under the conditions that the federal government would take over 900 million euros plus interest in the event of failure. In contrast to the usual practice, the guarantee applies “for both political and economic risk”.

At the celebrations to mark the start of construction of the pipeline on December 9, 2005, Gazprom boss Alexei Miller announced that Gerhard Schröder would become chairman of the operating company's supervisory board. This led to criticism from various quarters, in particular from politicians of the opposition parties, because Schröder himself actively shaped the project as Federal Chancellor and promoted it together with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

This guarantee only became known on March 31, 2006 in a court hearing between Gerhard Schröder and Guido Westerwelle . Westerwelle claimed that Schröder had given the "order" to build the pipeline. Schröder obtained a cease and desist declaration against which Westerwelle appealed unsuccessfully. Westerwelle was not allowed to repeat the assertion against a threat of penalty of 250,000 euros. At the hearing, Westerwelle's defense attorney presented a note from the Ministry of Finance, which was addressed to the Bundestag budget committee. The paper shows that Putin and Schröder “agreed” to build the pipeline, from which the defense derived the “order”. The guarantee and the conditions were also mentioned in this paper.

Schröder countered the allegations of the connection between the guarantee of the federal government and his seat on the supervisory board, that the Federal Chancellery was not in the committee to decide the guarantee. He and Gazprom also underlined that the guarantee never came because Gazprom ultimately did not use the loan to build the section.

According to government sources, Economics Minister Wolfgang Clement (SPD), Schröder's economic advisor in the Chancellery Bernd Pfaffenbach and State Secretary in the Finance Ministry Caio Koch-Weser knew about the negotiations and approved the guarantee, but the Chancellor himself was "deliberately" not informed. However, even Schröder's coalition partner -  Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen  - declared that Schröder must have known about it.

In June 2007, the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US Congress , Tom Lantos , criticized Schröder for this activity; the federal government rejected Lantos' remarks with “clarity and determination”.

EU and individual member states

After the signing, there were violent protests from several Central and Eastern European EU countries such as Poland , Lithuania , Latvia and Estonia , accusing Russia of efforts to split the European Union and Germany for neglecting their interests. The Polish Defense Minister Radosław Sikorski even compared the German-Russian treaty with the Hitler-Stalin Pact in 2006 . Political science research that examines the geopolitical effects of the pipeline regularly confirms the assumption of a negative effect on the position of Eastern European EU member states such as Poland and Ukraine. The common interests in the dispute over the pipeline led to a rapprochement between Poland and Lithuania. An important economic reason for Poland's resistance is that the Baltic Sea pipeline competes with existing land pipelines and thus no income from transit fees for Poland . The Polish government plans inter alia. the joint construction and operation of some nuclear power plants in north-west Poland and Lithuania to strengthen the security of their own energy supply .

In Sweden , too , there was growing criticism from July 2006 onwards. In terms of energy policy, the pipeline was described as a "wrong step", but attention was also drawn to the pipeline's ecological and safety risks, such as those arising from an increased Russian fleet presence in the Baltic Sea or from espionage activities using the pipeline infrastructure. Among other things, the former Swedish ambassador and security policy expert Krister Wahlbäck called on the government not to hold back Swedish interests any longer and to raise concerns about the ecological risks to the Baltic Sea with the German and Russian governments. Hundreds of thousands of Swedes spend their holidays on Gotland and the surrounding region. That is why Swedish politicians were also a thorn in the side of a planned maintenance platform 70 meters high east of Fårö . The Nord Stream AG waived due to the resistance finally to the platform; instead, she wants to service the pipeline with probes and robots. The former Swedish Defense Minister Mikael Odenberg had also pointed out the security dangers ; he suspected that Moscow would abuse the pipeline and its announced protection by the navy for military and industrial espionage.

The Swedish critics received support from the USA in September 2008. In a full-page article in the daily newspaper “ Svenska Dagbladet ”, the US ambassador to Sweden, Michael M. Wood, called on the Stockholm government to prevent the construction of the pipeline. The crisis in the Caucasus shows that Europe and the USA should not make themselves dependent on the unreliable energy supplier Russia, it says in the article under the heading "Say no to Russia's unsafe energy". The German government did not want to understand the stated intention of the US ambassador to want to protect Europe from unsafe Russian natural gas and protested at the US embassy in Berlin against the interference.

In 2007 Gazprom threatened the Europeans with gas withdrawal if the EU restricted the expansion of the Russian group on the European market and Gazprom did not allow Gazprom to act directly as a supplier instead of supplying European corporations. In view of this, the EU is primarily interested in the security of energy supply and the avoidance of monopoly on the energy market. To this end, the EU is endeavoring to expand the supply of natural gas to other regions of origin, in particular the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. The plans for the Nabucco pipeline to the Caspian Sea bypassing Russia were discontinued in 2013.

Environmental aspects

For information on harmful effects on the climate, see the environmental aspects of Nord Stream 2 .

It is argued that a gas pipeline through the sea always involves ecological risks. At the recommendation of HELCOM , this pipeline was checked for environmental compatibility . The building was particularly explosive because chemical weapons and other dangerous residues from the First and Second World Wars were suspected to be on the seabed . In addition to increased costs, their disposal could also have resulted in serious environmental pollution. The EU Parliament was concerned with this and other possible negative impacts on the marine environment. Another threat to the marine environment was posed by highly toxic chemicals that were to be used in the construction of the pipeline, for example the plan was to flush the pipelines with a bactericidal solution of glutaraldehyde , which is particularly toxic to aquatic organisms .

economic aspects

Critics pointed out the supposed economic irrationality of this project, since the construction costs on the seabed are one and a half times higher than those caused by the federal states. Economic research papers examined the changes in the direction of gas transport and came to the conclusion that the pipeline is at the expense of transit via Eastern European EU countries and Ukraine. On the other hand, Russia and Germany save transit fees through the Baltic Sea pipeline , which would otherwise flow to the transit countries. Project manager Georg Nowack also pointed out that the Nord Stream pipeline can be operated with a pressure of more than 200 bar, while the operation of land lines is limited to 100 bar for safety reasons. Operation at sea thus allows a significantly higher throughput compared to land operation.

Nord Stream 2

Overview and construction progress

logo

The construction of two more tubes will be implemented under the name Nord Stream 2 . The route runs largely parallel to the first Nord Stream pipeline. The two new strings with a total length of 2,460 kilometers are to conduct an additional 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year into the European Union. The investment volume for the construction of this gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea is expected to exceed the sum of 7.4 billion euros that was spent on the pipeline that is already in operation. It is estimated at around 8 billion euros. Further investigations and technical planning were planned until mid-2017, environmental impact assessments and permits until the end of 2017. After the necessary approvals from German authorities, Nord Stream 2 began offshore construction work in the German area ( Greifswalder Bodden ) in mid-May 2018 . According to the operating company's plans, the construction of the two new pipelines was originally supposed to be completed by the end of 2019, but this could not be complied with - in December 2019 Allseas started laying the pipes in water depths of 30 meters and more with the ships Pioneering Spirit and Solitaire due to threats of sanctions the USA from. At that time, around 150 km of the two tubes were still missing.

At the beginning of May 2020, the Russian laying ship Akademik Cherskiy reached the sea area east of Rügen after being transferred from the port of Nachodka on the Sea of ​​Japan with the aim of laying the remaining 160 kilometers of the pipeline southeast of Bornholm . Following an application from Nord Stream 2 AG at the beginning of June 2020, the Danish authority gave its approval in principle on July 6. Objections to the use of anchors by the laying vessels were expected during the four-week objection period, because the sea area is considered the spawning area for cod. On December 5, 2020, the media reported on the resumption of laying work by the Akademik Cherskiy. The laying ship Fortuna also began work in December 2020 between Adlergrund and Oderbank in Germany's exclusive economic zone . According to Gazprom, 94 percent of the pipeline was completed by the end of December. At the end of January and the beginning of February, the Fortuna laying vessel carried out assembly work in Danish waters. According to the pipeline operator, around 120 kilometers of pipeline still had to be laid in Danish and around 28 kilometers in German waters at the beginning of February 2021. The laying activities in February had to be temporarily suspended due to a cold front. In early April 2021, the Russian site manager complained about risky maneuvers by the Polish Navy near the construction work. In June 2021, the construction of one of the Nord Stream 2 pipelines was completed.

Public opinion

Approval for completion of Nord Stream 2 (May 2021)
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100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30th
20th
10
0
92%
84%
82%
81%
75%
69%

According to a representative Forsa study in May 2021, 75% of Germans are in favor of completing Nord Stream 2, while only 17% are against it. The survey showed that there was broad support for the completion in all electoral groups. The Eastern Committee of the German Economy criticized that the sanctions and blockade attempts of the USA threaten the democratic processes in Germany and Europe, endanger the interests of Germany and cause billions in damages at the expense of European taxpayers and companies.

Project companies

PJSC Gazprom (Russia), E.ON (today Uniper ) and Wintershall (both Germany), Royal Dutch Shell , OMV (Austria) and Engie (France; previously GDF SUEZ SA ) signed a shareholders' agreement in September 2015 and founded the project company New European Pipeline AG (PNEP) based in Zug (Switzerland). Gazprom initially had a 50% stake in PNEP, BASF / Wintershall, Engie, Uniper, OMV and Royal Dutch Shell each with 10%.

In August 2016, however, it was announced that the five Western European partners had withdrawn from the project and Gazprom had become the sole owner of the project company Nord Stream 2 AG . The Polish Competition Authority had in a cartel proceedings challenging the merger of several European companies in a joint venture inlaid with Gazprom. The merger would restrict competition and further strengthen Gazprom's negotiating position. Currently (2016) the subsidiary Gazprom Gerosgaz Holdings , based in the Netherlands, holds all shares in the project company.

Gerhard Schröder is the chairman of the administrative board of the project company . As with the first pipeline, Schröder acted as an economic lobbyist and repeatedly organized meetings between the managing director of Nord Stream Matthias Warnig and Schröder's SPD colleagues and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, as well as between Gazprom boss Alexej Miller and Economics Minister Brigitte Zypries (SPD).

In April 2017 it was announced that Gazprom will remain the sole owner of Nord Stream 2 AG for the time being, but that the five European energy suppliers that had previously separated from it as partners would each 10% of the construction costs of 9½ billion euros for the pipeline, i.e. up to 950 million euros each Wanted to finance euros. Gazprom incurs additional costs in the form of new pipelines within Russia that exceeded the cost of Nord Stream 2. An analyst at Sberbank wrote in a report in early 2018 that the expected investments would only be amortized after twenty years. Due to Gazprom's harsh reaction, the report's author was dismissed without notice.

The company Nord Stream AG 2 expressed in mid 2017, we reckon to have received the end of 2017 or early 2018 all permits for construction and operation. On August 10, 2018 , Nord Stream 2 AG submitted an alternative application for a north-west route around the island of Bornholm in Denmark for the controversial section of the route in the Danish Exclusive Economic Zone around the island of Bornholm . On October 30, 2019, the Danish energy agency DEA ( Energistyrelsen ) granted approval for the construction of the two Nord Stream 2 pipeline strings in the Danish EEZ via a route far east of Bornholm. This means that the project has all the necessary permits.

Foundation, endowment

At the beginning of January 2021, the state parliament of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania decided with a majority of the SPD , CDU and Left Party to found the Climate and Environmental Protection Foundation . The foundation starts with a capital of 20.2 million euros, of which 20 million euros are to be raised by Nord Stream 2 AG and 200,000 euros by the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. According to the statutes, the primary purpose of the foundation is environmental protection; according to media reports, it should also enable the pipeline to be continued. It is assumed that the foundation's assets are to be used, for example, to buy construction equipment if construction companies no longer want to participate in construction for fear of US sanctions. The former Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Prime Minister Erwin Sellering is intended to be the Foundation Board member .

Conflicting interests

Germany

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline is politically controversial. For a long time, the German government ( Merkel III ) was of the opinion that the construction of Nord Stream 2 was not a political but an economic project. In April 2018, however, Merkel said that Nord Stream 2 was not just an economic project, but that “political factors must of course also be taken into account”.

Leading MPs from the CDU / CSU , the Greens and the FDP criticized in 2018 that the pipeline was dividing the European Union politically and undermining German solidarity with Poland, the Baltic states, Slovakia and Ukraine, as well as Denmark and Sweden, because these countries reject the construction project for security reasons. After the poison attack on Alexei Navalny in August 2020, the pipeline in Germany was again increasingly the subject of political and public debates. In September 2020, the Greens in the Bundestag spoke out in favor of the federal government withdrawing political support from the pipeline. The alternative for Germany , the Left Party and the heads of government of the eastern federal states, however, called for the completion of Nord Stream 2.

The federal government rejects a construction freeze and is referring to forecasts by Nord Stream 2 AG from 2016, according to which Europe will have an additional demand for natural gas of at least 100 billion cubic meters per year. A correspondence between Oliver Krischer and the Ministry of Economic Affairs in September 2020 shows that Germany has adopted the Gazprom subsidiary's 2016 figures unaudited. The Federal Government has no calculations of its own or syntheses of results. There are doubts about the forecasts made by Nord Stream 2 AG. The Parliamentary State Secretary for Economic Affairs Marco Wanderwitz (CDU) replied that "Nord Stream 2 AG's planning for the construction of the pipeline is based on an additional demand for natural gas in Europe of at least 100 billion cubic meters [per year]", the figure of 100 billion cubic meters however, is based solely on information from Nord Stream AG. The German Institute for Economic Research described the pipeline as superfluous because the demand for gas is declining and will continue to decrease in the future due to climate protection measures (see economic aspects ).

European Union

Commission Vice-President Margrethe Vestager said building a second Nord Stream pipeline made no sense.

The three main EU institutions - the Commission , Parliament and the European Council - rejected the pipeline from the start. The European Commission has pointed out on several occasions that the pipeline does not contribute to the goals of the Energy Union of diversifying supply sources, routes and providers. The pipeline would make it easier for a single supplier to further strengthen its position in the EU gas market and would go hand in hand with further concentration of supply routes. There are currently well-functioning gas transport infrastructures that secure the energy supply in Europe. Existing transport routes, particularly via Ukraine, could be jeopardized by the construction of Nord Stream 2. Josep Borrell , the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy , replied to the German government's assertion that the construction project was a European and not a purely German project, saying that Nord Stream 2 was not a European project but “was entirely in the hands of the Germans . "

The EU launched several energy policies that made it very difficult to move the project forward. In April 2019, the EU Parliament passed revised energy rules that also apply to pipelines that lead from third countries to the European Union. The revised rules require ownership unbundling and third party access to the pipeline. Accordingly, the production of natural gas and the operation of the pipeline cannot be in one hand. Until now, however, “Nord Stream 2” had planned for Gazprom to both feed in the gas and operate the pipeline. In addition, an operator must allow its competitors to use the line for a fee. Nord Stream 2 does not meet these two requirements and Gazprom tries to circumvent these rules. This is being done with the support of the German government, which blocked the draft law for a long time and tried for years to delay European requirements so that Nord Stream 2 could go into operation before they came into force.

On November 13, 2019, the German Bundestag implemented this guideline into German law - but with a modified wording. The EU directive states that only energy projects that were completed before May 23, 2019 can be exempted from the directive. Since Nord Stream 2 was not ready at the time, the pipeline will not be included. In the federal government's draft law, this point of the EU directive has been moved to a different place and is no longer listed as a condition for the exception rule. The Federal Network Agency should decide on exceptions for lines. The EU Commission did not comment on the German approach. In the event of a legal dispute between the Commission and Germany, other EU member states that reject the pipeline could also have their say.

The project also divides the EU with regard to the question of whether further sanctions should be imposed on Russia also because of the annexation of Crimea in 2014 . Germany takes the position here to continue pursuing Nord Stream 2, but to impose tougher sanctions, while France is campaigning for a "strategic reset" of relations. The states on the EU's eastern border, Poland and the Baltic states, want a much tougher crackdown on Russia, so that the EU appears divided on foreign policy.

Poland

The construction of the Nord Stream pipeline is the biggest controversy between Germany and Poland in the energy sector and has been a strain on the relationship between the two countries ever since. Poland has sharply criticized the construction of the first line and the expansion of the pipeline from the start. The Russian-German project contradicts the common European energy policy and contributes to the division of the Union. Instead of promoting supplier competition and diversifying sources of supply, Nord Stream 2 strengthens Russia's position as an energy supplier and increases its dependence on Moscow. From the point of view of Warsaw, the project was decided across Polish heads and will be driven forward by Germany and Russia at the expense of Polish interests.

Poland sees the expansion of the pipeline as a threat to the country's security. Because Nord Stream 2 makes the existing gas connections overland superfluous, Warsaw fears that Poland and other transit countries would be at the mercy of Moscow. After the completion of the construction of Nord Stream 2, Russia could suspend its gas deliveries to Poland without disrupting deliveries to Germany and other western consumer countries. Poland sees Russia as an unreliable partner and cited the poison attack on Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny as the latest example in a series of events that call Russia's status as a trading partner into question. Lüder Gerken , however, suspects that Poland is rejecting the pipeline for purely economic reasons: A pipeline through the Baltic Sea would lead to the loss of transit payments for Russian gas that is currently being piped through Poland.

In October 2020, the Polish competition authority UOKiK imposed fines amounting to billions on the operating companies. Gazprom is expected to pay around 6.5 billion euros and its financial partners 52 million euros because they built the pipeline without the authority's approval. Gazprom and other project partners rejected the allegations and announced legal action.

Baltic States

The three Baltic states of Estonia , Latvia and Lithuania are against the Nord Stream pipeline and see the project as a threat to their own security.

According to the Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser , the pipeline is not an economic, but a geopolitical project. For Russia it is "a lever to intervene in European politics" and it is in the interest of the European Union to stop the project. Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid accused Germany of placing economic benefits above security and undermining the EU's goals of diversifying energy sources.

After the poison attack on the Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny, the Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš said that today's Russia is not a democracy and poses a threat to Europe and to European values. Against this background, it is wrong to hold on to the pipeline.

Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaitė criticized the role of the former Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who acts as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Nord Stream 2 AG. One could speak of a “Schröderization of energy policy in Europe”, she said. Russia has always used energy as a political tool to exert influence and as a means of pressure, which is why increased energy dependence on Russia means more political dependence, according to Grybauskaitė.

Ukraine

The journalist Konrad Schuller , correspondent of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung for Poland and the Ukraine, summed up in 2015 that Nord Stream 2 is “from the point of view of Eastern European governments still an instrument of Russian blackmail. According to their interpretation, it is primarily intended to dry up the Ukrainian transit lines and thus to dig the Kiev budget, which has already been shaken by war and crisis, another 1.8 billion euros a year. "()

Arseniy Yatsenjuk , Prime Minister of Ukraine until April 2016, spoke of an anti-Ukrainian project. The Ukrainian gas company Naftohas filed a complaint with the European Energy Community. EU Energy Commissioner Cañete said that Nord Stream 2 could never become a project in the pan-European interest .

Southeast Europe

After massive German pressure in the course of the sanctions against Russia at the beginning of 2015, South Eastern European countries decided not to participate in the rival project South Stream . These states accuse Germany of duplicity if Nord Stream 2 is pursued anyway.

Sweden

As a state bordering the Baltic Sea, Sweden is also one of the critics of the Nord Stream 2 project and sees it above all as a geopolitical project that is primarily designed to increase the EU's dependence on Russian gas imports, which in turn is a means of political pressure from Sides of Russia is seen. Furthermore, Sweden sees the danger that the construction and the course of the pipeline could result in a Russian military presence in the Baltic Sea and thus off the coast of Sweden. Since Sweden sees no possibility of stopping the project at national level, the Swedish government prefers the EU to end the project.

Gazprom intended to rent two ports on the island of Gotland and near the southern Swedish coastal town of Karlshamn to store pipes for the expansion of the pipeline . Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist and Foreign Minister Margot Wallström warned the two Swedish municipalities of the security risks that would arise in connection with the leasing of the ports to Gazprom. The port targeted by Gazprom at Karlshamn is close to air force and navy bases in Karlskrona . Sweden had not stationed any troops on the strategically important Baltic island of Gotland since the end of the Cold War . Since the Russian annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, Russia has increased military activity in the Baltic Sea. Sweden then started to build a permanent military presence on Gotland. The Gotland Municipality withdrew Nord Stream 2's permit to store pipes in the port.

Denmark

Denmark has raised security and energy policy concerns about the pipeline in particular. Denmark fears that Russia will allow itself to be blackmailed and calls for the EU Commission to exert a strong influence. Not Germany, but the EU Commission should negotiate with Russia and decide on the future of the project. The pipeline is supported by the Dansk Folkeparti , but comes up against resistance from the social democrats and radical Venstre .

Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen warned in September 2020 that Europe should not make itself dependent on Russian gas. She rejects the expansion of the Nord Stream pipeline. Her predecessor Lars Løkke Rasmussen also viewed the project and the German support for it extremely critically. Rasmussen had made Denmark's approval of the project dependent on Russian commitments to Ukraine.

Finland

Finland is relatively neutral about the project. According to a report by the Finnish think tank FIIA from August 2016, the latter sees a danger in the fact that the dependence on Russian gas imports for Germany and the EU as a whole could become too great and undermine its energy policy. The Finnish government would prefer a joint EU approach, but does not itself intend to have a national veto on the project.

France

In 2019, Paris turned against Germany by supporting the EU Parliament's new energy rules. The rules provide for the separation between the gas supplier and the pipeline operator. Due to the ownership links between Gazprom as the supplier and operator of the pipeline, the implementation of the EU regulation would have meant the end of the project.

In November 2020, President Emmanuel Macron's diplomatic advisor said one of the president's goals was to make France less dependent on "Russia, Qatar and others". In February 2021, France asked Germany to abandon the project. France's European Minister Clément Beaune said against the background of the violent crackdown on the protests in Russia in 2021 that protests and sanctions were no longer enough. Instead, additional measures would have to be taken, especially since France had "always had the greatest doubts" about this project.

United States

Gordon Sondland, former US Ambassador to the European Union

In August 2017, the US Congress passed a law to tighten sanctions against Russia, which should affect its energy sector. A side effect would be to increase US gas exports at the expense of Russian gas and create jobs in the US: High-priced American liquefied natural gas obtained through fracking is supposed to displace Russian natural gas supplies from the European market. The stated reasons for these sanctions are Russia's role in the Syrian civil war , Russian cyber attacks and Russia's interference in the presidential election on November 8, 2016 . Fears have been expressed that such sanctions could undermine Europe's energy security. Energy transportation and the maintenance of pipeline systems in Russia that feed Ukraine's gas transit systems could be affected. Sanctions against European companies that participate in the expansion of the Nordstream 2 pipelines for the energy supply to Europe are a violation of international law .

US President Trump criticized the pipeline on the first day of the NATO summit in July 2018. A US State Department spokesman said companies engaged in Russian export pipeline business face US sanctions. In the US media, however, it was noted that Trump had softened his position against Nord Stream 2 in July 2018. The former US ambassador to the EU , Gordon Sondland , put the EU under massive pressure in November 2018. Should the controversial Baltic Sea pipeline continue to be built, President Trump has options to "stop the project". "We have not yet used all the instruments that could seriously undermine or stop the project," said Sondland on November 13, 2018 in Brussels. The ambassador denied that the threat was caused by US interest in selling liquefied gas in Europe. In Sondland's view, the dependence on Russian gas for Europe is geopolitically wrong. Sondland said: "We don't want someone to turn off the gas in the middle of winter when a political crisis breaks out."

At the end of November 2018, in connection with the 2018 confrontation around the Kerch Strait , Ukrainian and US calls for a halt to the project were rejected by Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD), as the withdrawal of German companies from the project would not lead to that the gas pipeline would not be built. Rather, it would then be built by Russia alone. The German government had "wrested" a non-binding promise from Russian President Vladimir Putin that the infrastructure for gas transit through Ukraine would also be renewed as part of the project. Ukraine would not miss out on important income.

Former US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell

The former US ambassador in Berlin, Richard Grenell , threatened sanctions at the end of December 2018. In January 2019 he wrote a letter to several companies involved in the project: "We continue to emphasize that companies that are involved in the Russian energy export sector are involved in something that is associated with a significant risk of sanctions," quoted the " Bild am Sunday “(BamS) from the letter. Grenell claimed: “As a result, companies that support the construction of both pipelines are actively undermining the security of Ukraine and Europe.” A spokesman for Grenell told the BamS that the letter should not be understood as a threat, “but as a clear message of US policy ". In the Foreign Office , the letters were met with incomprehension, Grenell's approach did not correspond to diplomatic customs. Jürgen Hardt , foreign policy spokesman for the Union parliamentary group in the German Bundestag, described Grennell's threat of sanctions as a new and unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of Germany and the European Union: “It is something that, in my opinion, should provoke the federal government's protest. We should urge the Americans to return to the procedure we have had so far, namely that mutual difficulties in trade policy or Russia policy are discussed and resolved internally and not threats are made against individual companies. "The German Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier (CDU) said in mid-January 2019 with reference to Grenell's threatening letter: “Germany is a country in which freedom of expression and freedom of the press are guaranteed. Therefore it is not necessary to comment on each individual letter. But: the fact is that Germany is a constitutional state. ”The construction of Nord Stream 2 will mainly lead through international waters, the necessary permits from the national bordering states have been in place for a long time. The project has already been implemented to a large extent. "The federal government has an obligation not to arbitrarily intervene in such entrepreneurial projects," said Altmaier. Together with the US ambassadors Carla Sands and Gordon Sondland , Grenell called for Nord Stream 2 to be prevented by amending the EU gas directive; Reinhard Bütikofer , Member of the European Parliament for Alliance 90 / The Greens , agrees on the matter, although he also advocated reducing gas dependency overall. By transposing the EU gas directive into national law, the German Bundestag cleared the way for the controversial pipeline in the EU against the votes of the Greens in November 2019.

US Senate Sanctions Threats to Allseas (2019)

In December 2019, after the United States House of Representatives , the US Congress also voted for punitive measures against companies involved in the planned completion of Nord Stream 2; This affects the laying of the pipeline in areas of 100 feet (approx. 30½ m) water depth. For example, managers and main shareholders are to be banned from entering the USA or existing visas are to be revoked. Transactions by those concerned that relate to their property or their business interests in the USA should be able to be blocked. The PCK refinery in Schwedt announced that in the event of the US sanctions law being passed, it would be forced to cut back operations or to temporarily cease operations altogether. On December 20, 2019, President Trump signed the Sanctions Act, which went into effect. Immediately before the signing, the Swiss company Allseas announced that it would suspend its participation in the construction of the pipeline until further notice in view of the threatened sanctions. The laying ship that was used ceased its work from January 2020. The Turkstream gas pipeline is also affected by the US sanctions.

On June 4, 2020, it was announced that US Senators Jeanne Shaheen (Democrats) and Ted Cruz (Republicans), along with three other colleagues, were planning to tighten existing US sanctions with the aim of preventing the completion of the pipeline. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy then let it be known that it was rejecting “extraterritorial sanctions” as they were contrary to international law. From the point of view of the Minister of State in the Foreign Office, Niels Annen , the threats of US sanctions represent "an encroachment on European sovereignty that we reject"; however, he announced talks with Washington on the subject. In the meantime, a decommissioned research ship is in a shipyard in Sassnitz, which is being converted to continue the laying work.

After the poisoning of the Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny in August 2020, the leader of the EPP in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber , demanded in September 2020 that the completion of the pipeline should be reconsidered, also because Germany's approach to the construction of the pipeline many European partners would have frustrated. President Trump reaffirmed at the beginning of September that the project should be stopped. However, at the end of 2020, Trump vetoed a legislative package by the US House of Representatives that would extend threatened sanctions against Nord Stream 2, albeit not because of Nord Stream 2. However, this veto was rejected by the US Senate in January 2021 with the necessary two-thirds majority, so that the legislative package came into force without the president's signature.

In May 2021, the US government of Joe Biden decided to waive sanctions against the operating company of Nord Stream 2 for the time being and stated that waiving the punitive measures would be "in the national interest of the USA", since the application of sanctions would have "negative effects" on relations between the USA and Germany , on relations with the European Union and other European allies.

In July 2021, after 98% of the construction was completed and Angela Merkel and Joe Biden negotiated Nord Stream 2 at a bilateral meeting in Washington DC, the US government announced an agreement with Germany. It stipulates that both states will impose sanctions on Russia if that state uses Nord Stream 2 as leverage. In this case, Germany also undertook to work towards sanctions against Russia at the EU level. According to the USA, Germany has also committed itself to extending the contracts for the transport of Russian gas through Ukraine by ten years until 2034 in parallel with Nord Stream 2.

economic aspects

In a study from July 2018, the German Institute for Economic Research came to the conclusion that the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline to secure natural gas supplies in Germany and Europe was unnecessary and economically unprofitable. On the one hand, the consumption and demand for natural gas has been declining for years. For the future, too, energy industry forecasts assume that demand for natural gas in Germany and Europe will continue to decline. Fossil natural gas is said to be inferior to cheaper coal in the short term and to renewable energies with further developed storage technologies in the long term . If the climate protection targets set by the federal government were achieved, the demand for natural gas would fall by almost 73% between 2008 and 2050. On the other hand, a large number of supplier countries and a well-developed intra-European network of pipelines would be available on the supply side. The natural gas supply is so diversified that the existing supply system without Nord Stream 2 is crisis-proof and even a complete discontinuation of Russian natural gas supplies in Germany and Europe can be compensated for by other sources and more efficiency. In addition, only around a quarter of the existing import capacities are used for liquefied natural gas (LNG) and, if necessary, the supply can be further increased by importing LNG. An indication of the lack of profitability of the pipeline project are the high average costs for transporting the natural gas, which for Nord Stream 2 amount to around 25% of the natural gas price and are hardly feasible on the European natural gas market. In addition, because of the Nord Stream 2, additional lines such as the EUGAL connection line would have to be built, the costs of which would be passed on to natural gas consumers in Germany. The costs of these additional lines are estimated at 500 million euros and would have to be borne by consumers in Germany.

In May 2018, the Russian Sberbank published an analysis according to which Gazprom could not make a profit from the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The cost of the pipeline including the supply line from the Russian natural gas network in the amount of US $ 17 billion plus US $ 2.5 billion in debt financing would be offset by the savings from the bypassed transit through Ukraine of around US $ 700 million annually opposite. In addition, it was assumed that the German connection line EUGAL would not be completed until after 2020, that natural gas sales in Europe would not increase and that the pipeline would be utilized to 60%. Assuming these assumptions, the project has a negative present value of $ 6 billion. The authors of the study assume that the pipeline serves geopolitical interests and is intended to strengthen construction companies that are expanding the domestic pipeline network. The construction company Stroitransgas was commissioned by the oligarch Gennady Timchenko to build the Russian supply lines for Nord Stream 2 .

In a 2017 study, Norwegian economists showed that the construction of the pipeline would only increase sales of Russian natural gas to the EU slightly. Germany would get more natural gas from Russia, but exports to Central Europe via Ukraine would decrease at the same time. The researchers rate the project as unprofitable overall because the small additional revenues would be offset by very high construction costs.

Environmental aspects

The greatest environmental impact in connection with the pipeline results from the consumption of the transported gas. An increased transport capacity is in contrast to the desired decarbonization for reasons of climate protection. On the other hand, more CO 2 -efficient gas-fired power plants should make a contribution to phasing out coal . At 55 billion m 3 / a per pipe pair , CO 2 emissions of 110 million t each can be caused annually. Methane losses during extraction and transport also occur.

For the Portowaja compressor station at the Russian beginning of Nord Stream 1 with a total output of 366 megawatts, CO 2 emissions of around 1½ million tons p. a. estimated without the gas pipelines in Russia.

Since the pressure loss is the square of the flow velocity, dividing the unchanged gas transport volume from Nord Stream 1 to all four pipes could save about 3/4 of the pumping effort and probably more than one million t CO 2 emissions p. a. be avoided. Valued at discounted CO 2 damage costs of 180 euros / ton, this would enable the third tube to be amortized after 20 years after a rough estimate. Increased gas transport as a result of the second pair of pipes from Nord Stream 2 would have greater ecological and economic relevance.

The production of over 2.5 million tons of steel for the Nord Stream 2 tubes led to an estimated 4 million tons of CO 2 emissions for crude steel production alone; without the concrete coating, the associated pipes on land and all other construction-related emissions.

In May 2018, during construction work on Nord Stream 2 , clumped pieces of grease landed on the beaches of the Greifswald Bodden . A Nord Stream spokesman emphasized that it had not been proven that the grease came from a dredger at the Nord Stream construction site, but that there was "strong suspicion". Nord Stream agreed to clean the beaches. The fat appeared in the form of thousands of pink shimmering fat particles with a sticky, chewing gum-like consistency and polluted nature. Nord Stream stated that the substance is harmless and naturally degradable. The Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU), on the other hand, warned of the effects of the substance on the marine ecosystem ; for example, seabirds could eat the lumps of fat. The Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Ministry of the Environment warned beach visitors against skin contact with the substance. The NABU criticized that the clean-up work would not start vigorously enough; Because of the inactivity, the fat has now been ground so small that you can only remove hundreds of meters of beach with a shovel. The technical relief organization was deployed, Nord Stream promised help, of which, according to NABU, nothing was to be seen.

The pipes had to be buried for the first 50 kilometers in the relatively shallow water of the Greifswald Bodden. During the necessary dredging work on the seabed, the mineral phosphorite was released.

Nord Stream is also seen in the context of possible production in the Shtokman natural gas field in the Barents Sea .

The German Environmental Aid Association (DUH) complained in the summer of 2020 at the Higher Administrative Court Greifswald against the authorization granted by the Stralsund Mining Authority construction and operating permit for Nord Stream 2. Background is a legal opinion commissioned by the Technical University of Berlin . Accordingly, new scientific findings show that methane emissions from gas production are significantly higher than previously assumed. According to the environmental aid, the pipeline would not have been approved in view of the new scientific findings. Another lawsuit by DUH lawyers followed in April 2021, now at the Hamburg Administrative Court , against the further construction of the remaining 16.5 kilometers of the pipeline.

Cultural aspects

From the archeological point of view, the Nordstream 2 project is an asset, as the development areas were examined in advance of the construction work on Nordstream 2 and expectations were exceeded in the process. Among other things, 32 mine houses from the 4th century , skeletons from the Neolithic Age , a coin from the area of ​​today's Afghanistan and around 600 urns that were stuck underground near the Spreewald were discovered. In the run-up to construction work in Lower Saxony, Gessel's gold treasure was a unique cultural asset at Nordstream 1 .

Associated lines

In March 2020, the construction of a gas pipeline for filling Nord Stream 2 with gas (Grjasowez - Volkhov - Slawjanskaja compressor station) was "planned" according to Gazprom.

On the German side, Gascade built the Eugal European gas connection pipeline in 2019, largely parallel to the route of the existing OPAL pipeline from the Baltic Sea coast to the Czech Republic . The first line was put into operation on January 1, 2020. With the commissioning of the second line and the compressor station on April 1, 2021, Eugal was completed and thus reached its full transport capacity of 55  billion m³ of natural gas per year.

See also

literature

Web links

Commons : Nord Stream  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

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