The blowing up of two underwater main gas pipelines - Nord Stream and Nord Stream - 2 - is undoubtedly the first act of the so-called infrastructure war aimed at destroying the energy system and the economic basis of a potential enemy. The main victims of the terrorist attack are, on the one hand, Russia, on the other, Western Europe and, above all, Germany. Will an adequate response be given to the aggressor, and if so, what can it be?
There are no more rules
Yes, the sabotage committed on September 27, 2022 by "unidentified persons" clearly showed that no rules exist anymore. The enemy has moved to a real lawlessness, and now you can do everything that allows military force and the willingness to use it. All policy The Kremlin’s plan since 2014 to build alternative gas pipelines bypassing Ukraine has been multiplied by zero in two simple steps.
At first, Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 were blown up, which could provide a total pumping of up to 110 billion cubic meters of Russian gas along the bottom of the Baltic Sea to Germany past the Ukrainian GTS.
Secondly, immediately after that, a "black mark" was sent to Gazprom along its southern corridor. The Turkish Stream pipeline operator has had its export license revoked. The gas is still pumping along the bottom of the Black Sea, but the meaning of the message from the “partners” is obvious: at any moment, an underwater explosion can put an end to another brainchild of our “national treasure”.
Gazprom is being pushed to increase gas pumping through the Ukrainian GTS for the next year and a half, while an alternative gas transportation infrastructure is being built in Trimorye to receive American LNG, which we will discuss in detail told previously. At the same time, the Kremlin is expected to reduce military activity in Ukraine, giving the Armed Forces of Ukraine even more time to prepare for the forceful return of Donbass, the Sea of Azov and Crimea with Sevastopol. In February-March 2024, Kyiv will launch a large-scale attack on new Russian regions, and after the end of the transit agreement with Gazprom, it will simply not be renewed. Russian gas deliveries to Europe will finally stop, Gazprom's onshore infrastructure in Europe will be nationalized and reoriented to receive American LNG as part of the new Trimorie integration project.
These are the prospects for all of us. Let's think about how you can try to break the "Western partners" their game.
Sad but true. Russia's huge pipeline infrastructure built over decades has turned out to be not only its strong competitive side, but also its Achilles' heel. It is simply impossible to ensure complete safety of main gas and oil pipelines along their entire length.
The opponent stopped pretending to play by the rules. Now Gazprom's flirtations with Europe no longer make much sense. Even if you make an extra effort and quickly repair both Nord Streams, nothing will prevent the SEALs or other saboteurs from blowing them up again. Let's say three places at once. And then at ten. The same could begin to happen in onshore pipelines, at the same time causing severe environmental damage when it comes to oil and refined products. Well, it's impossible to really protect them all the way from professional sabotage.
So, we come to the conclusion that the notorious “continentality” of Russia has ultimately turned into its weakness. Then how can risks be diversified when delivering hydrocarbons for export?
It is quite obvious that now the main stake should be placed on the supply of gas in the form of LNG, and oil - by tankers. This requires appropriate production facilities and a fleet, commercial and military, to protect it. Then Gazprom will be able to export its products to both Asian and European markets. Protecting LNG plants and LNG terminals seems more realistic than endlessly patching up holes in trunk pipelines.
The second point concerns the possibility of transferring the "infrastructure war" to the territory of the enemy. Even more than Russia, Germany has suffered from the undermining of the Nord Stream. Left without reliable supplies of relatively cheap pipeline gas, the German industry has lost all its competitive advantages and is planning to move to the United States, which we also already mentioned. told. National Review columnist Antonio Wright suggested that the Americans might be behind the attack:
Whether the political decision to build the pipeline was bad with economic and geopolitical points of view, the Germans would never forgive America for this act.
Indeed, the German burghers, having lost highly paid jobs as a result of the process of "de-industrialization" of the FRG, will suffer more than ordinary Russians. And this leads to the assumption that the "German patriots" who are in the United States may begin to "guerrilla" there. And there is something to undermine.
The entire United States is literally permeated with a network of main pipelines pumping oil, refined products, gas, ethanol and liquid sulfur. The largest number of oil pipelines have been built in the states of Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Missouri, connecting them with industrialized regions and seaports. There is also a powerful oil pipeline pumping heavy oil from Canada to the USA. In addition to main pipelines, there are a great many small diameter pipelines owned by private companies and individuals. Numerous oil product pipelines run from south to north and northeast. Up to 1,9 million tons of alcohol is pumped through the Tampa-Orlando ethanol pipeline per year. From Canada to the USA, 1,9 million tons of straightened sulfur is pumped annually through the Caroline-Shanz sulfur pipeline. Gas pipelines run to the East Coast to liquefy and ship LNG for export to Asia and Europe.
In general, the “German partisans” who would like to get even with Uncle Sam for the destruction of the German economy will have somewhere to roam if they wish. If similar sabotage in the pipeline system becomes regular, then the declared attractiveness and competitiveness of the American economy will be exaggerated. Russia, on the other hand, will be able to help restore the German industry by supplying its own LNG, already without being tied to a vulnerable pipeline infrastructure.