Constructing a transboundary pipeline was never an easy proposition. Nord Stream 1 met serious objections from the Baltic States and Sweden before finally reaching a consensus and eventual construction. Nord Stream 2 will have an even greater challenge in getting all parties to agree before the first pipes are actually laid.
Like its predecessor, Nord Stream 2 aims to extend 1200 km on the floor of the Baltic Sea, beginning just south of St. Petersburg and running parallel to Nord Stream 1 to the Baltic coast town of Lubmin, Germany. All told 200,000 pipe segments, each one weighing 24 tons, will be welded together to deliver 55 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas per year.
A huge undertaking by any stretch and one that purports to be operational by 2020. Yet, despite the eminent strategic reasons for proceeding (cheapest option in the market, Germany needs the gas to feed its locomotive economy, positive effect on the bilateral Russian - German relationship, Europe's own indigenous supply from Norway and the Netherlands is gradually drying up), there are growing doubts that a second Nord Stream would be in Germany's (and Europe's) best overall interests. Dissenting voices from Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, Denmark, the United States and even international organizations like the European Commission / Parliament and NATO are increasingly shrill. Denmark, noting that the present trajectory of Nord Stream 2 would transgress the country's territorial waters, could slow progress.
But the biggest threat to Nord Stream 2 comes ironically from Germany itself which, after months of seeing the project as solely commercial, now sees a political dimension. Indeed, with Nord Stream online Russia could stop the transit of gas through the existing Bratsvo pipeline system in the Ukraine entirely, or use it as a political lever to extract geopolitical concessions from Kiev. Acknowledging the benefits of the diversity of supply Angela Merkel has informed Vladimir Putin that Nord Stream 2 will not be built if Bratsvo is rendered redundant. With the future of Nord Stream hanging Germany must decide which is more important: cheaper gas from Russia or better relations with its European neighbors and a more energy-secure Europe.
The Pipeline Technology Journal has taken the controversy as an opportunity to take a closer look at the project. This article is part of a series of reports which aim to cover different aspects and perspectives on this highly interesting topic. The other news are the following:
-> U.S. Industry Associations Strongly Oppose Steel and Aluminum Tariffs on America’s Trade Partners
-> Former German Chancellor Schroeder: The US pursues selfish interests
-> U.S. Close to Imposing Sanctions on EU Firms Involved in Russian Nord Stream 2 Project
-> Austria: 50 years of gas supply contracts with Russia demonstrate the need for long-term energy security