The Odyssey of Academician Chersky is gradually coming to an end. The pipe-laying vessel passed the English Channel, accompanied by a whole convoy of military vessels of the Baltic Fleet. By May 2, they are waiting for him in Kaliningrad, where it is to be retrofitted and begin to complete the construction of Nord Stream-2.
However, the ultimate goal indicated by the “Academician” raises questions: the port of Nakhodka, where he left. What is it, subtle trolling from the side of the route organizers, or is it a premonition of a "terrible end"?
Recall, due to the sanctions imposed by Donald Trump, foreign contractors immediately abandoned Nord Stream-2, leaving about 6-7% of its length in the offshore part, which mainly falls on Danish waters, incomplete. Gazprom’s specialized barges Fortuna and Defender available on the Baltic Sea are not entitled to proceed with the completion of the gas pipeline, since they do not meet Copenhagen’s requirements. The only vessel Akademik Chersky formally suitable for this was located in the Far East and required preliminary conversion.
The pipelayer left Nakhodka some time ago and immediately attracted the attention of the media and the public with his maneuvers. The ship is constantly changing its destination; at a certain stage, warships began to accompany it. It is believed that this way Gazprom is insured against new US sanctions, sabotage, the possible arrest of a ship, etc. This caused a patriotic upsurge among some of our readers:
Behind any ship with the Russian flag is Russia. The presence of the military on this campaign simply underlines our determination. No aggression. But the flight time of “Caliber” to where it should be is calculated in minutes. This is for dessert.
However, the above is not the main problems of the Academician and the Nord Stream-2 project as a whole. Talk about the unpleasant.
Some time ago on the "Reporter" came out publication, in which we examined several scenarios for the development of further events. Among them was one version, which we designated as the least probable: having completed the retrofitting in Russian ports in the Baltic, Chersky will indeed return to Nakhodka, as indicated in his last message.
Wildness? Yes. But, in order not to injure the psyche afterwards, let's take into account this scenario, even if the least probable of all of them. What are the reasons to at least allow such a development of events?
At first, it is necessary to take into account the pandemic factor, which brought down the volume of production and consumption of hydrocarbons in the most developed countries. According to various estimates, coronavirus killed 10 to 15% of the world economics, the exact numbers have yet to be calculated in the future, and they can grow. The recognized locomotives suffered the most: China, the EU and the USA. The first two are traditional markets for Russian hydrocarbons, the latter are our direct competitor. That is, oil and gas are now needed substantially less, and their price is low due to an oversupply, which inevitably leads to a tightening of the confrontation in the market.
SecondlyTherefore, taking into account the risk of sanctions by the United States is no longer against Nord Stream-2 and its contractors, but with respect to its consumers. Let us recall the sanctions against Iran: the Europeans were indignant, but in the end they backpedaled. The EU gas market is a lot of money, and Donald Trump has repeatedly proved that he is ready to firmly lobby the interests of US manufacturers. Especially now, when things are not going well for everyone.
ThirdlyWashington has a wide arsenal of tools of sanctions pressure on Russia and its energy projects. For example, Danish US allies may prevent Academician Chersky from breaking into the Baltic to work without insurance. If the ship is insured by domestic companies, and Copenhagen turns a blind eye to this, then Warsaw will come into play. Today came newsthat Poland threatens to seize the assets of Nord Stream-2 if Gazprom does not pay the $ 1,43 billion lost to the state-owned company PGNiG in the Stockholm arbitration. Then Ukraine can join in with its next claims. Unfortunately, there is no way to fix things with any “Caliber”.
In other words, it cannot be ruled out that Nord Stream 2 will indeed be put on hold for the next few years. The option that Academician will return to the Far East is not a priority, but different from zero.