The closer the calendar winter is, the hotter the passions flare up around the Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. The well-known German business publication Handelsblatt came out with an interesting publication, essentially calling on Gazprom to start supplying gas to Europe almost forcibly, getting off with a “symbolic fine”. What is this, a hype on a popular topic, a signal to the Kremlin from the German business community, or a dangerous provocation aimed at outwitting and outplaying the "Russian bear"?
To be honest, it is rather unusual to hear open calls to slightly “cheat” the European system and its rules from a respected German business publication. Let's see what might be behind this.
Pump, save and save
In early September 2021, the construction of the Nord Stream 2 subsea gas pipeline was completed. According to the design capacity, 55 billion cubic meters of gas should be pumped through it from Russia to Germany along the bottom of the Baltic Sea per year. To start its work, you need to go through a 4-month certification procedure. However, the German federal network agency BNA recently suspended this procedure. According to German law, the pipeline operator Nord Stream 2 AG, registered in Switzerland, will have to create its subsidiary in Germany, to which the "main assets and human resources" of the project, located in Germany itself, should be transferred. This is not a quick business. Taking into account the fact that Christmas and New Year holidays are just around the corner, the unbundling procedure (separation of the functions of transit and sale of energy resources) may be delayed. Previously, we toldthat in the worst case scenario, the certification of Nord Stream 2 could turn into a real legal long-term construction.
But this does not suit the German side. The calendar winter is about to come, and with it the cold. Gas prices in Europe have already stepped far beyond the $ 1 per 2 cubic meter mark. In case of frost, you see, the price tag will get up to XNUMX thousand dollars. For European economics and, in particular, for the German one, this means enormous problems. Its competitiveness in comparison with the Chinese and American ones will rapidly decrease, the selling prices for industrial products have already increased. However, endlessly shifting your costs onto the shoulders of consumers will not work either. A full-fledged economic crisis may follow the energy and fuel crisis. What to do?
And here the respected German edition Handelsblatt comes out with a proposal to “cheat a little”, which is atypical for refined European business. To call a spade a spade, German business circles are proposing to Gazprom to start forcibly pumping gas to the EU through an uncertified pipeline, paying Brussels a fine of 1 million euros for this. At the same time, German analysts “softly lay down”, describing the benefits of the Russian monopolist, who will be able to earn more money on gas supplies to Europe:
This amount looks reasonable. Investments in the construction of Nord Stream 2 amount to at least 10 billion euros ... Thanks to this, Gazprom will save on payments for gas transit through Ukraine.
It is surprising to hear such proposals from German partners, who, apparently, believe that the Russians "have completely collapsed from the oak tree." Let's list the reasons why it is worth sending everyone in the forest with such ideas.
At firstIt even touches how easy it is in Germany to treat the Russian budget money that Gazprom operates with: a “penalty” one million euros there, one million euros here. Just think, have already invested 10 billion, the treasury will not become scarce, right?
Secondly, the promises of unheard-of profits that Russia will earn if it starts to forcibly pump gas to Europe via Nord Stream 2 make you smile. The fact is that the abnormally high prices for "blue fuel" in the EU are precisely due to the artificial limitation of supplies by Gazprom, which does not increase them beyond the limits established by the agreements. As soon as Nord Stream 2 starts working, the price tags per thousand cubic meters will immediately go down.
ThirdlyFor some reason, journalists from Handelsblatt forget to mention further inevitable consequences. Gazprom's key task is not to warm Europe here and now, but within the framework of the procedure established by European legislation to achieve certification of Nord Stream 2 and its withdrawal from the EU's Third Energy Package so that it can operate at 100% of its capacity. If a Russian company starts to forcibly pump gas to Europe through an uncertified pipeline, it will certainly be sued by two Ukrainian and one Polish energy companies, which have already been involved in the certification process. And they will undoubtedly win. After that, the normal future for the pipeline can be forgotten.
In no case should Gazprom violate the established procedures; on the contrary, the certification process must go through flawlessly in accordance with European legal norms. If the Germans need it so, let them put pressure on their network regulator to hurry.