Crunch time looms for Nord Stream 2

Nord Stream2 pipesThe future of Gazprom’s plans to lay a second 1,200km long pipeline along the bed of the Baltic Sea – Nord Stream 2 – should become clearer next week, with EU officials due to decide on Monday if it will ease restrictions on the company’s access to the Opal pipeline that links Germany to the Czech Republic insiders have told Reuters.  The issue was discussed in Brussels yesterday, and although no decision was made it “will happen in due course,” an official predicted.
If it gets the go-ahead, the new pipeline would run along the bed of the Baltic Sea, bypass Ukraine and double the amount of gas Russia supplies to Europe and, while the project has the backing a consortium of West European companies including EON, BASF /Wintershall, Shell, OMV AG and Engie, it is bitterly opposed by several East European states including Poland and Slovakia who are worries about Russia’s energy dominance.
Nord Stream 2 and OpalGreater access to the Opal pipeline – which is already used to transport Russian gas from the existing Nord Stream pipeline into Western Europe – is seen as crucial to Gazprom’s plans to double its European gas exports.
Nord Stream 2 is also under threat from regulations introduced by the EU since agreement was reached for the construction of first pipeline in 2005 and which bar providers from controlling the pipelines used to transport their gas. Russia and Germany are arguing that those rules should not apply to the offshore part of the new pipeline, which would cross the exclusive economic zones of four member states before reaching land in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s constituency of Greifswald on Germany’s Baltic coast.
EU antitrust regulators are due to meet with Gazprom in Brussels next Wednesday, an event that one EU source described as “absolutely key” and which could “change the whole game”.

Source: reuters