The fight for the European energy market is getting tougher. Against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, there was a general decline in production, prices for "black gold" and "blue fuel" have seriously decreased. In addition to LNG, new players are coming to the EU, supplying pipeline gas: TANAP-TAP from Azerbaijan, in the future - Baltic Pipe from Scandinavia to Poland, as well as EastMed from Israel and Cyprus. At the same time, the new sanctions from Washington are calling into question the very existence of the Russian gas pipelines Nord Stream 2 and Turkish Stream.
Last year, President Trump signed the US defense budget, which included sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 under construction. The Swiss contractor immediately quit his job, leaving the project on hold indefinitely, despite a high stage of readiness. Gazprom was forced to transfer the Akademik Chersky pipe-laying vessel to the Baltic from the Far East, with the help of which it intends to complete the construction of the offshore pipeline on its own. Good news Denmark can be considered to have given permission for the use of the second Russian pipe-laying vessel, the specialized barge Fortuna. Also, supply vessels are already in the German port of Mukran. Apparently, the work will be structured as follows: "Fortuna" welds pipes, and "Chersky" is laying them. That is, with technical On the other hand, the problem of Nord Stream 2 is completely solvable. But the good news, alas, ends there.
The United States is preparing another package of anti-Russian sanctions, and they will be much tougher. Moreover, they will concern not only Nord Stream 2, but also the transit line of the Turkish Stream. This, in fact, puts an end to the whole policy construction by Gazprom of bypass routes around Ukraine. What exactly do the Americans intend to do?
The draft law on restrictive measures against Russian energy projects was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives of the US Congress. In addition, a document similar in substance was adopted by the upper house and the Senate. After overcoming the discrepancies, the bill must be signed by President Donald Trump, and then the document will enter the US defense budget for next year. There are no exact wordings yet, but it is known that not only the construction of gas pipelines, but also certification, licensing and their subsequent maintenance are subject to the ban. And this is very serious.
If Gazprom completes the construction of Nord Stream 2 on its own, the European regulator, which must issue all the permits required for the operation of the pipeline, will fall under the American sanctions. This puts the EU authorities in an extremely delicate position, since the United States de facto extends its jurisdiction over the territory of a union of sovereign states. The big question is how Gazprom's European partners will behave. In Germany, there is a lot of talk about retaliatory sanctions and trying to negotiate exceptions with Washington, but in the end, everything can remain only words.
In the case of Turkish Stream, everything is much sadder. The Bulgarian contractor can give up the construction of the transit line just as easily as the Swiss one for Nord Stream 2 earlier. How Gazprom will get out with the completion of this onshore pipeline in Europe is completely incomprehensible. Former President Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, called the US actions "greyhound."
Jokes aside, this is serious business. The European gas market is a tasty morsel, but it is actively transforming. Demand volumes and energy prices fell, while the number of competitors increased. For their share, many countries are literally ready to fight on it. Thus, one of the reasons for the sharp aggravation of the situation in Libya is the control over the route of the new EastMed gas pipeline, which we mentioned above. If Germany is unable to bargain for an exemption for Nord Stream 2, then the fate of Gazprom's additional transit capacity to the European market becomes very vague, and the link to Ukraine becomes critically important.
Given that the EU intends to completely abandon the use of fossil fuels over the next 30 years, it's time to think about diversifying the Russian economics and the reindustrialization of the country.