Is Nord Stream 2 an EU and German project? Dissonant voices in Europe
Project &# 171; Nord Stream-2&# 187; – for or against Ukrainian gas transit to the European Union?
&# 171; Gazprom&# 187; and Slovakian Eustream a.s have agreed on cooperation
KIEV – The Russian gas monopoly Gazprom and the operator of the Slovakian gas transmission network Eustream a.s have agreed to use Slovakian gas transmission capacities within the framework of the Nord Stream 2 project. This was reported by the Interfax news agency, citing the words of Alexei Miller, Chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee..
“Today, negotiations were held with the Slovak operator Eustream and an agreement was reached that the Slovak gas transmission capacities will be used within the framework of the project. "Nord Stream 2"”, – said Alexey Miller on June 30 at a press conference following the results of the annual meeting of shareholders.
Alexey Miller emphasized that “the parties reached an understanding on joint activities and cooperation within the framework of this project, in particular, an agreement was reached that such joint activities would be long-term”.
“If the parties have agreed, then they considered that the agreements are mutually beneficial,” added Alexey Miller, refusing to clarify the details of the agreement.
Russian media report that Slovakia is transporting Russian gas to Europe in transit through Ukraine. Gazprom’s plans to build the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to replace Ukrainian transit meant further losses in Slovakia’s revenues from Russian gas transit.
“Slovakia has been one of the fiercest opponents of Nord Stream 2. In September 2014 Eustream a.s. launched a large-scale gas reversal to Ukraine, ”the news agency reports..
From resistance to non-resistance to Gazprom
Ukrainian expert on energy issues, President of the Center for Global Studies “Strategy XXI” Mikhail Gonchar believes that Slovakia’s participation in the Nord Stream-2 project is not as straightforward as the Russian side is trying to present it.
“It is difficult to argue that the position of Slovakia, due to resistance to Nord Stream 2, suddenly turned into a position of non-resistance, given that official Bratislava was among the main signers of the Letter of Nine on behalf of governments and heads of state to the European Commission with protests against Nord Stream -2 “. Although there are some alarming moments, it is obvious that Gazprom has made such an offer, which, in their opinion, is difficult to refuse. We know how Russian propaganda works. The expert assumption so far is that the use of the Slovak gas transmission capacities within the framework of this project may be minimal, “says Mikhail Gonchar to the correspondent of the Russian service of the Voice of America..
The geographical position of Slovakia, according to Mikhail Honchar, does not allow it to be a transit state for gas supplied through the pipes of the project Nord Stream 2.
“Slovakia wins only when gas is transited through its territory from Ukraine. There can be no cheap transportation of gas to the center of Europe from Yamal along the route proposed by Nord Stream 2. To the north of Germany – maybe yes, but this region is not the main consumer of gas in Europe. All other consumers, farther south, for them the best way is either through Belarus or through Ukraine. Especially when it comes to buyers in the Balkans or northern Italy. In the event of the implementation of Nord Stream 2, Slovakia can expect to be only the final consumer of gas and very minimal – its transit “, – says Mikhail Gonchar.
Mikhail Gonchar believes that the Russian lobby in the European Union is trying to open a “window of opportunity” for the Kremlin on the Nord Stream 2 issue, using support in some countries and political weakening, even – “the shock state of the establishment in the European Union after Brexit.”.
“Nevertheless, punching gaps in one after another of the countries that disagree with Nord Stream 2, trying to crush them one by one, this does not give the green light for the implementation of the next“ rollback pipeline ”of Gazprom. Objectively, the Russian economy does not work for these Gazprom projects. The only economy that works for Gazprom is the export of gas along with the export of corruption. Hence, we see so many people who want to help the Russian gas monopoly in the implementation of projects, ”emphasizes Mikhail Gonchar.
Mikhail Gonchar notes that as the final result of energy projects that can hardly be justified economically, Russia would like to achieve a reduction or lifting of sanctions by the European Union by the end of 2016..
“In parallel, we see the increased activity of Gazprom in the southern European direction and the statements of various Italian politicians about their desire to resume negotiations on the forgotten South Stream. This is happening not because Italians do not want to adhere to the spirit and letter of European energy legislation, but because Italy feels ignored by Gazprom. Like why all gas flows are switched to Germany, which will supply gas to the Apennine Peninsula and Central European countries in the future, ”says Mikhail Gonchar.
Hypothetical scenarios after Nord Stream 2
At the same time, Dmitry Marunich, co-chairman of the Energy Strategies Fund, believes that the Slovak leadership takes a “dual position” on the country’s participation in the Nord Stream 2 project..
“In fact, they were not active opponents, the Slovak side has a contract with Gazprom until 2028 according to the take-or-pay formula. In any case, if Gazprom had stopped pumping gas through Slovakia by building Nord Stream 2, Bratislava would have gone to court, and probably would have won it. Gazprom is the largest transit customer for Slovakia, there are simply no others. The Ukrainian side uses the Slovak gas transportation system for small volumes of reverse, ”says Dmitry Marunich to the Russian service of the Voice of America.
Dmitry Marunich believes that, “probably,” the Slovak leadership, represented by specialized companies, “gravitate” towards cooperation with Gazprom within the framework of Nord Stream 2. According to Dmitry Marunich, the implementation of this project will have an extremely negative impact on the transit of Russian gas through the territory of Ukraine..
“Ukraine will simply lose Russian transit, and there is simply no other transit of gas from the east for Ukraine. If Nord Stream 2 is implemented, Ukraine will lose from one and a half to two and a half billion annually as a payment for fuel transit to the countries of the European Union. On the other hand, Slovakia will reckon with the position of Russia, the Russian business, represented on the territory of the republic – and this is undoubtedly. Is this good news or bad news for the official Kiev? Potentially, if Nord Stream 2 is launched, gas can be supplied to Ukraine in transit through Germany, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. After such statements, which we are talking about, we are getting closer and closer to a similar scenario, ”emphasizes Dmitry Marunich.
Gazprom: an attempt to deploy gas transit
According to Roman Nitsovich, Program Manager of the Dixy Group Analytical Center, the Russian side is conducting political bargaining with precisely those countries that are opponents of the idea of implementing Nord Stream 2.
“Last week, Gazprom representatives held talks with the Polish side. They offered Warsaw to continue the existing transit contract for 25-30 years, as if declaring that the implementation of Nord Stream 2 will in no way affect the transit of gas through this country. For Slovaks, the current situation is most beneficial: they have a long-term contract with Gazprom-Export. However, it is this contract that is a barrier to start the “big reverse” of European gas from Slovakia to Ukraine, ”Roman Nitsovich said in a comment to the Voice of America Russian Service..
Roman Nitsovich believes that it is still difficult to talk about the realism of Nord Stream 2, which, in fact, is designed to deploy gas transit for European consumers, instead of the existing route through Ukraine..
“Even if Russia builds it, it will be necessary to build an appropriate infrastructure on the territory of Germany, connect it with a similar one in the Czech Republic, and then with Poland – this is another additional set of costs,” says Roman Nitsovich.
Roman Nitsovich says that Slovakia, Poland and Ukraine are countries that could hypothetically lose transit gas volumes if Nord Stream 2 is implemented.
“During the implementation of the project, Russia at any time can cut off gas through the existing pipelines in Slovakia, Poland and Ukraine. Russians today are trying to demonstrate that this will not happen, “says Roman Nitsovich..
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