Europe at the freezing point
German energy businessmen go against the United States. These people stand their ground: new sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 are dangerous for the European Union. Even the phrase “cold war” acquires a different, more somber tone in connection with this: the Europeans do not want to freeze. And it turns out that the “cold war” is no longer between the US and Russia, but between the US and Europe. You can put it more specifically: the gas confrontation escalated between the United States and Germany.
German subscription «Handelsblatt» quoted the opinion of the chairman of the board of Uniper, Klaus Schäfer (Klaus Schäfer). He said that the recently approved US sanctions, which mention the project Nord Stream 2 (Nord Stream 2), are a true sword of Damocles for the European Union.
Shares of the company "Uniper" are going uphill today. As the head of the company believes, in the United States adopted a new sanctions law because Washington pursues its own goals in the energy market, wanting to squeeze Russian gas out of Europe. The task of promoting the sale of American gas is being resolved, the businessman noted. That is why gas from Russia will be forced out. Herr Schaefer pointed out that all this is unequivocally spelled out in the new law on sanctions. In fact, the Americans are pursuing an industrial policy in which they do not accept any compromises.
The Nord Stream 2 project may already fall under new sanctions approved by the White House. And such a hanging situation is a real "Damocles sword", and therefore Schaefer is ready to "demand" "clarity" from Washington. “Clarity” should consist in clarifying the actions of the White House: the Germans want to know what “prescriptions” the US authorities will issue for the gas project.
Herr Schaefer also recalled that "European and German politicians" made it clear: this cannot continue. He noted that "inconsistent actions" between the United States and Europe are "inappropriate."
In addition, he spoke in favor of the view that not only energy but also economic arguments are in favor of the Nord Stream 2 project. Europe needs to purchase “extra gas”.
But the opponents of the project are guided "in part" by their own commercial interests. Other opponents of the Russian project are ill with logic: for example, in Poland they oppose Russian gas, but at the same time they are eager to make money on transit. This is “duplicity,” Schaefer concludes.
Director of the National Energy Institute Sergei Pravosudov recalled in an interview "Free Press"that the United States at one time opposed the Soviet-European gas supply projects. The Americans saw that their allies strengthened relations with Moscow, and Washington traditionally ranked it among its opponents.
Today, as before, the Americans cannot offer any intelligible replacement of Russian gas to Europe. “Their assurances that the US will flood Europe with liquefied natural gas (LNG) are merely empty promises,” the expert says.
In addition to Ukraine and the Nord Stream 2 pipes, theoretically gas to Europe can be supplied through Turkey, the expert explained, however, these supplies would have been more expensive. “Nord Stream 2” is a shorter route than a pipe through Ukraine, and “Turkish Stream” is a longer one. “I don’t think,” says Pravosudov, “that Germany will seriously consider such roundabout supplies, when you can safely receive gas via the northern route.”
What is Russia doing?
Russia occupies a predominantly observer position, notes leading analyst at AMarkets Artyom Deyev, whose opinion leads the magazine "Expert". According to him, the EU countries and companies themselves must defend their positions: after all, the situation in which the US imposes its gas on them is absolutely unprofitable for them. Moreover, the United States and will not be able to provide the necessary volumes of supply.
On the other hand, Russia doesn’t have any serious methods of counteracting US sanctions. At the same time, the probability of a warming of relations between Moscow and Washington remains. The economic argument of Moscow is the price of gas. Even with very large supplies and the availability of infrastructure, American gas will lose to Russian in 10-20% cost.
According to Alor Broker analyst Kirill Yakovenko, Europe has invested more than 2 billion euros in the construction of the Nord Stream 1. The volume of investments of Uniper, Shell, OMV and others should total 4,75 billion euros.
This is the economic response to the proposed American LNG in Europe, and at the same time to the sanctions that the US lawmakers and Donald Trump actually announced not only to Russians, but also to Europeans.
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Recall, US President D. Trump signed a law to toughen the sanctions regime against Russia, Iran and the DPRK 2 August 2017. Even before the signing of the new act, Europeans, first of all Germans and Austrians, stated at the highest level that sanctions would punish EU companies for participating in joint energy projects with Russia, under which Nord Stream 2 falls.
The law really pursues specific goals aimed at infringing the interests of both Russia and Europe. The first is being driven out of the European market, the second is being forced to buy American gas, not at all wondering if there is a demand for it. Trump is a tough and quick businessman, which is why he signed the sanctions bill, with which you can throw a noose on Russian gas companies. Whatever Mr. Trump may say about the “unconstitutionality” of this act, he approved it. What the president resisted in his heart, the businessman accepted with joy. Apparently, Trump likes it when politics helps to succeed in the economy. Is it just to succeed?
The series with the new sanctions is the gas version of the Cold War. However, Europe is not willing to freeze! Moreover, the German energy business does not want to lose potential profits. At the same time, Europeans do not want overseas uncles for them to decide what to do and how. Let it be late, but the recognition of independence began to return to the surprised Europe. With all the desire, the European Union can hardly be called an American colony. The EU locomotive is Germany. If she gets serious, Washington (read: Mr. Trump) will lose face, and Moscow will only benefit from the economic and political confrontation of former Cold War allies.
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