On January 1, the US Senate, overcoming President Trump's veto, adopted the defense budget for 2021 with amendments limiting the completion of construction, certification and commissioning of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline (it also featured Turkish Stream, but they were late with it , it is already completed and operational).
Trump a week earlier tried to veto this document, dissatisfied with some of its provisions, which, in his opinion, harm national security. But 81 senators out of 100 present did not agree with him. The House of Representatives overcame this veto on December 28. It should be noted that during Trump's presidency, the overcoming of the veto by both chambers of the US Congress occurred for the first time.
The consequence of this was that the very next day, the Norwegian certification company Det Norske Veritas (DNV) GL, a long-time partner of Nord Stream-1, has been working with it since 2012 and conducting its annual certification for detecting risks to people, property and the environment. Wednesday, said it "will cease all activities to inspect the Nord Stream-2 pipeline system in accordance with the sanctions, and as long as those sanctions remain in effect."
We are implementing a plan to end our project support
- said in a statement released by the company on January 2, 2021.
Inspection and certification of SP-2 is mandatory on its Danish section, the construction of which has not yet begun. The Russian pipe-lay barge Fortuna, with the support of other Russian vessels, is currently completing the laying of pipes on the German section of the gas pipeline 2,6 km long (5,2 km in total both lines), which are not subject to the law. The restrictions are written in such a clever way that they only apply to depths over 30 meters. On the German section, they are smaller, so work continues there, but on the Danish section all depths are over 30 meters. What to do? Even if we spit on the sanctions and finish building the pipeline, we will not be able to certify it and start operating it. Without a certificate of conformity, SP-2 is simply a pile of iron worth 15 billion dollars, buried in the bottom of the Baltic Sea and part of the land.
President Biden, even if he really wants to go to the meeting with Merkel, will not be able to repeal this law. Because the law of the Congress is not regulated by presidential decrees, another law is needed to cancel the already adopted one, and in the Congress there is full consensus on this score - both "elephants" and "donkeys" with all their hooves (or whatever they still have) for sanctions against the hated Russia. If Germany also suffers, then this will also suit the "elephants", even allies are drowned in the struggle for survival, expensive gas will make European products uncompetitive in comparison with the products of American manufacturers in all markets. Only one can survive, and blaming the United States for this is somehow even stupid.
What is the sophisticated cynicism of "partners"
The decision is quite sophisticated, considering that they waited until we bury $ 15 billion in the bottom of the Baltic Sea and only after that they introduced their sanctions. The first sanctions against SP-2 were introduced back in 2019 and also as amendments to the defense budget (only for the 2020 financial year). This then led to the withdrawal of the Swiss pipelay company Allseas. At that time, we had to reach the unfortunate 168 km. And since the pipelaying services are quite specific and the Swiss held a monopoly here, there was nothing to replace their ships with.
The Americans calmly watched us dig in another $ 1 billion for this, trying to re-equip our existing Akademik Chersky pipe-layer (its book value was estimated at $ 1 billion even before the conversion), which we had previously intended to use for development of the Kirinskoye gas condensate field in the Sea of Okhotsk. And then we drive it across half the world, from Nakhodka across three oceans around Africa, bypassing the Suez Canal to the Baltic, accompanied by tugs and a military escort, in order to run into barrage sanctions. And even if we spit on them and, in spite of our enemies, finish building SP-2, we will still not be able to certify it and use it for its intended purpose, and Akademik Chersky will automatically be included in the “black list” under sanctions and will not be able to work on Sakhalin like we do planned. Then our money was crying - another 1 billion to the tail of the already lying there 15! The prospects are sad.
What is Ukraine's gain from this
And I am not saying anything about the fact that under US pressure the norms of the Third Energy Package were applied to the Nord Stream-2 under construction, as a result of which its capacity was cut from the design 55 billion cubic meters per year by exactly half. And "Akademik Chersky" is our only vessel suitable for laying pipes at great depths, and has not received insurance, without which it cannot operate in Danish waters. Representatives of the community of international insurance companies have made it clear that they are not ready for the sake of Nord Stream 2 to fall under US sanctions and lose their business. The circle is complete.
How does this threaten Russia? The fact that for the next 4 years we are doomed to feed Ukraine by pumping surplus gas through its GTS, which we planned to pump through SP-2 to fulfill the contract with the EU on Russian gas supplies to Europe. The agreement between OGTSU (LLC "Operator GTS of Ukraine") and PJSC "Gazprom" was spelled out in such a way that for each cubic meter of gas pumped over the agreed rate, we pay 20% more (and there, and so the tariff was not small - 32 dollars for each 1000 cubic meters). The contract was signed for 5 years and provided for the pumping of 65 billion cubic meters in the first year, with a subsequent reduction in the volume of pumped gas to 40 billion cubic meters in 2021-2024 on the "pump or pay" principle. This principle led to the fact that in 2020, having pumped only 55 billion cubic meters through the Ukrainian gas transportation system, we paid as for 65. I would ask Dmitry Kozak, who on behalf of the Russian Federation oversaw the signing of the contract, why do we need such a “profitable” contract? !
We will see how Gazprom will get out of this situation in 2021.