Nord Stream 2 Only Temporarily Paused, Germany Still Needs It - Expert
20:28 GMT 23.02.2022 (Updated: 21:19 GMT 19.10.2022)
BRUSSELS (Sputnik) - Germany decided to halt the certification of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in retaliation for Russia's recognition of the breakaway regions in Donbass, but the measure is only temporary, Samuele Furfari, a professor of energy geopolitics at ULB university in Brussels, told Sputnik.
"I would say that Nord Stream 2 is only mothballed for now by the German government. The unease of Chancellor [Olaf] Scholz (SPD) about the issue of Russian gas delivery to Germany is evident, as it is also a hot political question within the German coalition of the Socialists, the Greens and the Liberal party," Furfari said.
He noted that the SPD has always had good relations with Russia, with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who has been recently tapped to join the board of directors at Russian state gas giant Gazprom, taking an active part in the creation of Nord Stream 1.
Moreover, the NS2 terminal is located in northern Germany, in the region governed by the Socialists, so they have "every reason to support the launch of gas delivery through NS2," the expert explained.
"The SPD is very aware of the important needs of gas of Germany, because of their choice of abandoning nuclear energy and investing massively in the intermittent renewable energies (wind and sun) which impose gas as support," Furfari said.
However, the Greens are fundamentally opposed to gas and other fossil fuels, fearing that investments in the pipeline will postpone the full switch to renewables, according to the expert. Though, he added, they forget that gas will still be needed to "compensate" renewables in the long term.
"Moreover, let's not forget the pressures of the US to stop Russian gas deliveries and rely instead upon the American LNG. America has gas to sell and wants to impose it on its European allies. The problem is that Germany does not have a single LNG terminal, while Spain for example has 10 of these terminals! Again, it is because of the Greens who try to stop all investments in fossil fuels. So Germany would need to import LNG from the closest terminals, in Poland, in Zeebruges, Belgium, or Dunkirk, France. Not ideal. Therefore, we can expect that Nord Stream 2 is not dead at all, only frozen until the situation calms down," Furfari said.
Gas prices in Europe can also be expected to continue to rise, exacerbated by the Ukrainian crisis, the expert said. Since gas is mainly used for industrial production and for heating homes, the economic damages caused by closing the Russian gas taps would be huge for Europe, Furfari said. The consequences will not be accepted well by the European population, and a "yellow vests" type of protest may rise, the expert warned.
23 February 2022, 19:03 GMT
Changing to other gas suppliers, such as the US, Qatar or Algeria, will also not be able to cover the gap in deliveries if the EU stops dealing with Russia. The expert pointed out that at the recent Gas Exporting Countries Forum in Doha, the participants made an important declaration, saying "don’t count on us for delivering to Europe. We work with long term contracts signed with countries who trust us, mainly in Asia: China, Japan or South Korea for example."
"If Europe wants to propose long-term contracts, it can propose it but it would take a long time to implement. Europe needs the gas from Russia, supplemented by the Azeri source, delivering to Italy, and the few LNG terminals for coastal regions," Furfari said.
The European Commission should abandon the Green Deal in its current version, the expert suggested.
"Gas and nuclear energy have been put in the green ‘taxonomy.' It is progress, but state aids cannot go to these 2 sectors, which are vital for Europe. European policy architecture is completely flawed and in need to be corrected urgently," Furfari concluded.