Gazprom was able to obtain permission from Denmark to participate in the construction of the Nord Stream-2 specialized barge Fortuna. Together with the "Academician Chersky" they are able to complete the underwater gas pipeline in just three months. Does this event mean the victory of the domestic monopolist over American sanctions?
As you know, the Russian-German energy project “hung up” due to restrictive measures introduced at the end of last year by President Trump. The European contractor abandoned the construction site, and Gazprom’s own efforts to quickly complete the pipeline proved to be problematic due to the demands of the Danish side. In fact, the problem cannot be called sucked from the finger. At the bottom of the Baltic Sea, a huge amount of ammunition left after the end of the Second World War, including German chemical weapons, is flooded.
The only Russian pipe-laying vessel with a dynamic positioning system at its disposal, the Academician Chersky, was located in the Far East, from where it had to be transported to the Baltic Sea for several months, continuously changing its destination. Now Akademik is standing in the German port, where he is being prepared for installation work. The Fortuna pipe-laying barge is equipped only with an anchor positioning system, which is the main problem. Another question is that the seabed was thoroughly examined before starting work, but in Copenhagen they could again begin to find fault with the Fortuna and break up the red tape. But for some reason they did not.
At first glance, everything now looks a little more optimistic than before. The Danes gave time to appeal the decision on “Fortune” until August 3, and “Chersky” can begin to complete it even now. Tentatively, the work can take three months from two vessels, plus another three or four for commissioning. By spring, Nord Stream-2 will technically be ready to pump gas to Europe, as promised in the Kremlin.
Unfortunately, everything is somewhat more complicated than we would like.
At first, Denmark's decision on Fortune may still be filed. This takes a whole month; it is entirely possible that Poland will exercise this right, which considers Nord Stream-2 a threat to the security of the EU and its own.
Secondly, the risks of US sanctions have not disappeared. The United States is now discussing the possibility of introducing new, much tougher ones. Washington prohibits Berlin from licensing and certification of a gas pipeline from Russia, as well as its subsequent maintenance. Not only German commercial structures, but also the state itself fall under attack. Rudeness, of course, is incredible. In the expert community, the popular version is that the German authorities themselves asked Gazprom not to drive horses in order to negotiate a relaxation of restrictive measures, outlining Germany.
Thirdly, time itself does not have to launch an additional gas pipeline. Demand for gas in Europe has now declined, prices do not please sellers. By and large, at this stage, the capacity of Nord Stream-1 is enough. Due to the limitations of the Third Energy Package, under the first “Stream”, we had to use the EUGAL branch, built under the “Stream” of the second. As soon as Nord Stream-2 is put into operation, both pipelines will remain only half full.
In fact, in order to pump one volume of gas, two gas pipelines had to be built bypassing the Third Energy Package. The removal of Nord Stream-2 from its norms will, apparently, be a separate long history.