The crisis in Ukraine threatens the future of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and strains relations between Russia and Germany

FILE PHOTO: A road sign directs traffic towards the entrance of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline facility in Lubmin, Germany, September 10, 2020. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke//File Photo (Hannibal Hanschke/)

The crisis in Ukraine has created a debate around the intense relations between Berlin and Moscow in the energy field and the future of the gas pipeline Nord Stream II, which most likely will not start working in case of a Russian invasion of that country.

The gas pipeline has generated political discussion practically since its inception precisely because of the fear, especially in Eastern Europe, that the European Union (EU) would become excessively dependent on Russia for energy.

The crisis in Ukraine has aggravated matters as the thesis that the German Government had defended that the gas pipeline is a purely business project has cracked.

The Foreign Minister, annalena baerbock, it is within the Government that has expressed itself more clearly when saying before parliament that, in the event of Russian aggression against Ukraine, “we have a range of responses available including Nord Stream II”.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, <a class=Germany, January 26, 2022. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi/Pool” height=”3484″ src=”” width=”5000″ />
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, January 26, 2022. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi/Pool (MICHELE TANTUSSI/)

The chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has been less clear but has remembered the aagreement with the United States on the operation of the gas pipeline, which implies in fact the possibility of prevent it from starting if there is a Russian attack on Ukraine.

The voices that come from the parliamentary groups of the government parties are clearer and thus, for example, the president of the Defense Commission, Marie-Agner Strack Zimmermann, said this Friday on public television that Nord Stream II will not start operating while there is a danger of war in Ukraine.

The project and its history

Nord Stream is a system for transporting gas from Russia to Germany and other European countries through the Baltic and consists of two gas pipelines: Nord Stream I, which began operation in 2011, and Nord Stream II, which was completed last year. but it is still not working.

Nord Stream I is owned by a consortium whose majority shareholder, with 51 percent, is the Russian giant Gazprom and the rest is shared Winterhall Dea, Eon, Gasunie Y Engie. Nord II is wholly owned by Gazprom.

File photo of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline logo in Chelyabinsk, Russia Feb 26, 2020. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
File photo of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline logo in Chelyabinsk, Russia Feb 26, 2020. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov (MAXIM SHEMETOV/)

Plans to create a route through the Baltic to transport gas to Germany – thereby saving Gazprom from paying passage fees through Poland and Ukraine – were hatched in a time of excellent relations between Russia and Germany and between the chancellor of the time, Gerhard Schröder, and President Vladimir Putin.

Schröder and Putin attended the signing ceremony of the agreement between the companies on April 11, 2005.

Initially the project was supported by the EU but in 2005 the situation changed when, due to unpaid bills, Gazprom cut off gas supplies to Ukraine.

For Germany, the advantage of transportation through the Baltic was precisely that it guaranteed its gas supply and meant that it would not be affected by possible political conflicts with other countries.

Both then and now for Germany it was key to ensure the supply of Russian gas because with the process of abandoning atomic energy, which had begun in 2002, alternatives were needed while the promotion of renewables advanced.

Vladimir Putin and <a class=Angela Merkel. EFE/EPA/SPUTNIK/KREMLIN/POOL/Archive
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Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel. EFE/EPA/SPUTNIK / KREMLIN / POOL/File (SPUTNIK / KREMLIN / POOL/)

Russian gas and Germany

Currently, as the Economy Minister recently said, Robert Habeck, 55 percent of the gas used in Germany comes from Russia.

Nord Stream II responded to the same principle of optimizing the transport of Russian gas to Germany and was initially proposed as a joint Gazprom project with several European companies that, however, withdrew from the project.

However, the energy expert from the Institute for German Studies in Berlin (DIW), claudia kefert, consider that economically the project is not reasonable given that in the medium term there will be a decrease in the demand for gas due to the advance of renewables.

“Our studies show that if climate protection goals are to be achieved, the need for gas will decrease. The pipeline is economically unnecessary”, Kemfert said in statements to German media.

Currently, according to the German Government, most of the Russian gas that reaches Germany comes through Nord Stream I and not through land lines.

(With information from EFE)


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