Russia and Ukraine | Germany suspends approval of Nord Stream 2: what role does the controversial gas pipeline play in the crisis? - Start Up Gazzete
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Russia and Ukraine | Germany suspends approval of Nord Stream 2: what role does the controversial gas pipeline play in the crisis?


Final approval of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline has been suspended due to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, Alemana reported.

The gas pipeline between Russia and Germany was completed last September but has not yet entered into operation.

Nord Stream 2 has the capacity to supply enough natural gas from Russia to 26 million homes in Europe .

Running at full capacity, it could go a long way to solving gas shortages and high energy consumption prices.

Gas pipeline map.

What is the Nord Stream 2?

Nord Stream 2 is a 1,200 kilometer gas pipeline that crosses the Baltic Sea to transport gas from the Russian coast near Saint Petersburg to Lubmin in Germany.

It was completed last September at a cost of US$11.35 billion. Russia’s state-owned energy giant Gazprom put up half the money, and Western companies like Shell and France’s ENGIE are paying the rest.

Nord Stream 2 runs parallel to an existing pipeline, Nord Stream, which has been in operation since 2011.

Together, these two pipelines could deliver 110 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe each year . That is equivalent to more than a quarter of all the gas that the European Union consumes annually.

Map showing the most important gas pipelines in Europe

How does the crisis in Ukraine affect the future of Nord Stream 2?

The gas pipeline still does not have an operating license – and Germany has just suspended its granting.

The move came after Russia formally recognized two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine and sent troops there.

“In view of the latest developments we must reassess the situation in particular with regard to Nord Stream 2,” said Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

In early February, US President Joe Biden pledged to shut down Nord Stream 2 if Moscow invaded Ukraine, declaring, “I promise you we can do it.”

This is not without creating a problem for Germany , as it is the largest customer of Russian gas in Europe and has been eagerly awaiting the new supply.


Who opposes Nord Stream 2?

The United States and the United Kingdom, along with Russia’s neighbors Poland and Ukraine, strongly oppose Nord Stream 2.

They fear that once it starts operating, Russia would have even more dominant control over gas supplies to Europe.


Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has called Nord Stream 2 “a dangerous political weapon  .

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Europe needs to “stop the Nord Stream dripping into our bloodstream”.

In 2006, Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine due to a financial dispute between the two countries. The move caused acute power shortages during the winter in central and eastern Europe.

It is feared that Russia could cut off gas supplies in the future for political reasons.

The United States has attempted to block Nord Stream 2 in the past, imposing sanctions on companies involved in the project . However, he only focused on Russian firms and not German ones for fear of damaging diplomatic relations with Berlin.

Nord Stream 2 would guarantee Germany an additional supply of gas pumped directly into the country.

Who needs the Nord Stream 2?

Russia is keen to increase gas supplies to Europe from its vast fields in the west of the country.

It prefers an underwater pipeline to Europe rather than relying on its onshore pipelines through Poland and Ukraine. Those pipeline networks are aging and inefficient. Also, Poland and Ukraine charge high fees for their transit.

Before the crisis, Scholz’s predecessor, former Chancellor Angela Merkel, advocated strongly for approval of Nord Stream 2 .

Germany already imports 35% of the gas it needs from Russia, and Merkel estimated that Nord Stream 2 could be the way to get much more direct Russian gas supply to Germany.

Additionally, another former Chancellor of Germany, Gerhard Schröder, joined Nord Stream 2 in 2016 as a member of the board of directors, after supporting the program during his time in power.

Worker operates the controls of Nord Stream 2
Several countries fear that Russia could cut off gas supplies to Europe for political reasons.

When would Nord Stream 2 go live?

Even before Germany’s move, the project already faced a major legal hurdle and was unlikely to be pumping gas before the summer of 2022.

Germany’s regulator refused to grant it an operating license because the Russian firm Gazprom owns 50% of the shares in Nord Stream 2 and all the gas it would pump.

Germany contends that gives Russia too much control over supplies and wants ownership to go to another company.



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Joshua Smith

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