Germany Poised to Beat Poland in Rift Over Russian Gas Pipeline to Europe
Poland has failed in its attempts to stand in the way of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, the CEO of Germany’s largest oil and natural gas company Wintershall, Mario Mehren, said in an interview.
“First, we and our western partners are working on ensuring financial support to Nord Stream 2. Second, the operator company is implementing the project on a step-by-step basis. It has already ordered the pipes and is ready to start working. All the Poles managed to do was to turn a European project into one with only a single Russian partner left to foot the bill,” Merhen told the German Handelsblatt newspaper on Thursday.
He added that during the work on Nord Stream 1, Warsaw feared that a gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea bypassing Poland could make the country vulnerable to “Russian blackmail.”
“Poland and Ukraine worry that their transit earnings could go down, but this should not concern us because we now have the most direct and economical way of pumping gas from Siberia to consumers in northwestern Europe. Gas transport is not an investment into the budget of third party countries,” Mario Mehren emphasized.
Poland is the staunchest opponent of Nord Stream 2. Last year it warned it would block the venture because it could allegedly make Europe more dependent on Russian gas.
As a result, the five West European partners – Engie, OMV, Shell, Uniper и Wintershall – had to pull out of plans to take stakes in Nord Stream 2, thus forcing Gazprom to finance the project on its own.
In an interview with Radio Sputnik, Alpari investment company analyst Roman Tkachuk said that with Germany being fully behind the project, Nord Stream 2 pipeline has good chances of being built.
“Germany is foursquare behind the project, which means that, sooner or later, Nord Stream 2 will go online. It would make us less dependent on transit via Ukraine, Poland and some other countries, that’s why I believe that the Eastern European countries will keep trying to torpedo this whole project,” Tkachuk said.
He added, however, that Germany could use its sway over the EU and Europe as a whole to lobby its own interests in the project.
“Judging from what some [German] officials are saying, I think that some countries’ fears will most likely be ignored,” Roman Tkachuk said.
Nord Stream 2, a joint venture of Russia’s Gazprom with France's Engie, Austria’s OMV AG, Royal Dutch Shell, Germany's Uniper and Wintershall, is expected to bring an estimated 55 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas to Germany across the Baltic Sea, bypassing Ukraine, Poland and all three Baltic states.
The launch of the pipeline is planned for 2018. A number of EU countries, notably Germany and Austria, have been supportive of the gas project but others, including Poland and the Baltics, have argued that it would increase energy dependence on Russia.