While RAO Gazprom is calculating losses for the first quarter of this year, which turned out to be a failure in terms of exporting “blue fuel”, the “friends” of our country are rubbing their hands, dreaming of the “bankruptcy” of the domestic energy giant, or even the “collapse” of the entire Russian economics. Meanwhile, the confrontation between Russia and the United States associated with the construction of domestic gas pipelines going to Europe continues to seemingly receded into the background against the backdrop of world problems associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moscow has not yet taken particularly active actions aimed at the implementation of these projects, and Washington is doing its best to make it clear that it will not allow this implementation in any case. Nevertheless, there is reason to believe that in the current situation, US actions play into the hands of Russia! Is it possible?
Nord Stream 2 must be blocked!
The whole world remembers the story of the Roman statesman Mark Porcius Cato the Elder, by endless repetition of his phrase "Carthago delenda est!" - "Carthage must be destroyed!", With which he ended literally every speech in the local Senate (even if it was about the improvement of city baths), so annoying his compatriots that they did go and razed the unfortunate city to the ground ... It's a joke, of course - it is clear that the sentence to Carthage was signed from a purely utilitarian political и экономических соображений. Но Катон с его бесконечным долбежом – личность вполне историческая и, что самое неприятное, имеющая конкретных последователей. К примеру – члена другого Сената, уже США, хорошо известного своей «горячей любовью» к России Теда Круза. Этому деятелю жить мешает не давно растворившийся в веках Карфаген, а наш «Северный поток-2», против которого он, впрочем, сражается с неменьшим пылом и упрямством, чем его далекий предшественник.
Not so long ago, the senator gave a very extensive interview in which he said that if Gazprom decided to use the Akademik Chersky ship to lay the last unfinished section of about 160 kilometers, then the US president would simply be “obliged” to introduce the most comprehensive sanctions against this concern. According to Cruise, the ban for RAO representatives to enter the United States and completely block all its assets located in this country, or controlled by American companies or private individuals, “will be just the beginning of trouble” ... What specifically follows, the senator did not specify but you can be sure that nothing good.
Moreover, a little later, the senatorial office also made extensive explanations and comments on the revelations of its own patron. They specified that in the case of the involvement of Academician Chersky for the completion of the construction of Nord Stream-2, the exact same sanctions and restrictions would also be imposed on officials of the Russian State Property Management Agency, which controls the state-owned shares in RAO Gazprom ". And also - representatives of Rosneftegaz and Rosgazification, on the grounds that they “are the main shareholders of the concern with a controlling stake”. Widely, however, overseas "controllers" swung!
The comment also mentioned that, in accordance with decisions taken earlier by Washington, a procedure is run every six months, during which the US Department of State, together with the Department of the Treasury, reports to Congress on all the vessels that are laying the gas pipeline, and also provide specific and an exhaustive list of “all foreign companies and individuals who sold, leased or otherwise provided such vessels or even facilitated their provision”. And all - under sanctions! Immediately, and, moreover, now. With hot iron and dust of them, without any pity and exceptions! “Remember: if your company is involved in the construction of Nord Stream-2 for at least one day, it will be subjected to serious and potentially fatal legal and economic sanctions!” - openly stated in the statement of the Chancellery of the Cruise. It is not surprising that after such threats, analysts from the Atlantic Council issued a categorical forecast: "due to American restrictions, Nord Stream-2 will never be completed" ...
“Turkish stream” - “building of the century” or building for centuries?
The situation is rather sad with the other energy megaproject of Russia - the Turkish Stream pipeline going to Europe from the South. As you know, from the beginning of this year, the “blue fuel” going through it came to Bulgaria. It just looks like it will linger there - and for a very long time. Already today with the naked eye it is clear that the commitment undertaken by Sofia by June 1, 2020 to complete the construction of a 308-kilometer stretch of the country's territory and “transfer the baton” to Serbia, through which Russian gas was supposed to go to Hungary, and possibly further, will not be completed for anything. As of mid-April, at least only 150 kilometers of the gas pipeline were completed. And, apparently, hoping for a radical change in the situation for the better is not worth it.
You can get real pleasure from reading the report of the state-owned company Bulgartransgaz on how the construction of the century, which runs the risk of being dragged out for an indefinite period of time, was granted not only by anyone, but personally by the Prime Minister of Bulgaria Boyko Borisov. An amazing masterpiece, written exactly according to the canons of a bad dancer’s narrative about exactly what physiological details prevent him from captivating the audience with his art ... Accompanied the head of government in his wanderings along a trench length of 230 kilometers, along which 220 kilometers of pipes were laid waiting for his time (150 as said earlier, they’re even cooked already) the head of Bulgartransgaz Vladimir Malinov inspiredly told the distinguished guest about the host of problems that fell personally on him and on his subordination people working in construction. It turns out that the coronavirus is to blame for the delay!
“Work is carried out exclusively with the strictest compliance with all safety measures taken in connection with the state of emergency!” - Bravo reports Malinov Borisov. Particularly impressive is his report that “workers arriving from abroad begin to fulfill their duties no earlier than after a two-week quarantine.” So, that’s how ... But they didn’t try to build themselves ?! Obviously, having been patched up by the members of the European Union, the Bulgarians are hunchbacked at plebeian occupations, such as earthwork and welding, are considered below their own dignity. The result is obvious: according to Bulgartransgaz, digging a kilometer of trench a day and laying, at best, 900 meters of pipes. Will they succeed at such a pace by June 1? Not to life!
Not only that, with distribution compressor stations, without which, in principle, all pipes are just a bunch of potential scrap metal, this is even more beautiful. Borisov was solemnly presented ... the foundation, flooded at the site of the future construction of one of them! This is a month and a half before the start of the gas pipeline, through which 12 billion cubic meters of fuel must pass annually instead of the current four. Something tells us that they won’t be able to build compressor rooms that are lazy to the limit. And by the way, in addition to problems with COVID-19, local archaeologists do not give them an unprecedented labor zeal! It turns out that while laying the pipeline, the workers came across as many as 45 objects of incredible cultural and historical value, the detailed study of which is now being done by specialists from the National Archaeological Institute, driving away excavators and other hard workers from excavations with such words that they are even embarrassed. And yet - the government is simply obliged to pay 5 million leva (2.75 million dollars) to hardworking farmers whose farmland "fell under the pipe." It also takes time and costs ...
Nowhere to hurry?
All of these excuses, as well as Boyko Borisov’s statements that “the construction was delayed because they started late” (and who prevented us from starting earlier ?!), are, in essence, attempts to hide the true reasons why the Bulgarians, who built it quite dexterously the section through which Russian gas began to flow into their country then began to “work” at the speed of a sleepy fly. Last December, Bulgarian Prime Minister and Minister of Energy Temenuzhka Petkova held a meeting with energy experts from the US Department of State, at which, no doubt, they "put their minds" like the "white gentlemen" from Washington know how, " instructing the true path "natives hungry for their favor. In the process of Borisov’s “historic summit” (there is no doubt, with the exact same sincere look and honest eyes with which he still swears to complete the gas pipeline until June 1), he assured the American emissaries that he would put his soul and body on in order to cooperate with their country, "to strengthen the energy security of Bulgaria through the diversification of various energy sources and routes for its receipt." Especially “due to the import of LNG”. It’s clear what kind of origin ... Again, we must understand that in the understanding of any clerk of the State Department or the White House the concept of “diversification” with respect to European countries is interpreted solely as a rejection of Russian energy sources, and, moreover, from honest participation in projects on their transportation.
Well, now about the most interesting. Putting all sorts of "sticks in the wheel" to the construction of pipelines and other aspects of Gazprom's activities in Europe, the United States today unwittingly provides him with services. Yes, Nord Stream 2 must be completed in spite of any American machinations - at least for political reasons! However, in the current situation due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is simply unprofitable for our country to rush into its launch. The utilities of the Old World are almost overcrowded, the prices for “blue fuel” have fallen to complete indecent and have a tendency to further decrease, due to a drop in consumption by almost 30%. According to the forecast of the European Central Bank, the local economy, which sank at least 7.7%, will return to the pre-crisis level in the best case by the end of 2021. And even that is far from guaranteed.
It is all of these factors — low gas demand, huge reserves that have already been accumulated at the moment that allow local regulators to try to “twist the ropes” from Gazprom and Nord Stream 2 AG, frustrating them with “gas directives” and demanding to give half of the capacity unfinished pipeline is unclear to anyone. Where do we hurry? Hastily building up "Nord Stream-2", to drive fuel on it at current exchange prices of $ 50-60 per thousand cubic meters? No, it’s better to slowly and regularly carry out old contracts, where the price is two to three times higher. For another 9 months it will be impossible to change it even with ultra-low quotes on the exchange. Are Americans or Arabs “taking over” the European market with their LNG? Do not capture - their gas is much more expensive. That's when the Old World will recover from the pandemic, when it will again need the previous volumes of “blue fuel” and will be ready to pay an acceptable price for it - then we'll talk. In the meantime, the “pause” is only in our favor - especially since the US is to blame for it anyway!