Competition, nothing personal
Russia is not a competitor to the Americans. Of course, not strategically, but economically. For American legislators, and even more so for their voters, Russia is a raw material appendage, it is not entirely clear whose, even if armed to the teeth and extremely impudent. But this is not China or Europe.
And if Russia had not made such unprecedented efforts to maintain the energy independence of both the West and the East, the Russian factor in Washington could have been neglected altogether. Even taking into account Syria, Ukraine with Crimea and Donbass, or even without them.
However, it doesn't work out somehow. The Russians are hindering the great shale project and the no less great project "to fill Europe with American LNG" - liquefied gas. The halt in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, at least temporary, but rather long, is something of a lifeline for the current republican administration.
You can immediately drop all accusations of "betting on the Russians" and calmly start processing the brains of the majority of the white population of the country, which has not yet completely gone crazy on the basis of the notorious tolerance in all its forms. But after all, having unleashed a tough struggle with Nord Stream 2 to the limit, the American administration is not only chasing points in the election race, but also trying to look into the future.
The messages that the ambitious project began to see a second bottom have not yet been widely disseminated. This happened not so long ago, when the world started talking seriously about the prospects of hydrogen energy. But even a superficial assessment of the prospect of pumping this most valuable resource along the bottom of the Baltic, the one and only, is capable of mixing all the cards in the current gas situation.
In the meantime, Washington does not hide its intentions to oppose the completion of Nord Stream 2 by all possible means. AND история with the poisoning of Russian blogger Alexei Navalny, it turned out to be very useful here.
What does Navalny have to do with it
The authors are not going to ask the question of how it happened that the famous blogger was so promptly, without delays and games in quarantine measures, sent to Germany. It is more important for them that Navalny, following Belarus, which stubbornly does not want to be left without the "dad" for now, was included in the list of factors that play not in favor of Nord Stream 2.
Europe has long handed over the gas pipeline, which they persistently continue to call Russian, given the presence of a number of partners of a level no lower than Gazprom, actually at the mercy of Germany. What can be changed here because of the incident with Navalny is not entirely clear, but it was not just that he was sent to a German clinic.
It is believed that the US sanctions could cost any of the project participants almost more than penalties for outstanding work. Well, under the roar of the cannonade, which is arranged around the world due to the pandemic, and this cannot be ruled out.
But retaliatory measures or specific business decisions with a turn to face not only Russia, but also China or, worse, Venezuela and North Korea, can be so powerful that the US economy will regard the 30 percent decline of the last quarter as good luck. The experience of cooperation between Europeans and Iran convinces us that nothing is impossible in the modern economic world.
The arrest by the American court of half a billion dollars in the accounts of Deutsche Bank - is this a trial balloon or an educational measure? Moreover, this was done for the implementation of the transaction of the Russian businessman from the sanctions lists, where he got after its implementation.
One thing is for sure: this is a dangerous precedent, from which the Europeans can draw conclusions completely unexpected for the United States. Now we are talking about an attempt to turn the European Union as a whole into an American satellite, that is, to get rid of at least one global competitor. Second, China is not going anywhere from the United States because of the risk of losing its main sales market.
Six arguments against
Journalists are often ahead of the rest. Politicians are still bargaining, experts are gathering the necessary information, and the press is already giving out options for possible developments. In the case of Nord Stream 2, the American media association Politico hastened to get ahead of everyone.
They counted six options for how Germany can cancel previously issued construction agreements. After that, in fact, give the go-ahead to stop the project, which came under US sanctions, and only then insist on sanctions at the EU level.
Although it is still not entirely clear against whom these sanctions will ultimately be directed, since in addition to the Russian Gazprom, at least five international corporations are involved in the project, and not without a share of Germany. Recall that the project involves not only the Austrian OMV, the French Engie and the Anglo-Dutch oil and gas giant Shell, but also the German companies Wintershall and Uniper.
The latter have not resigned themselves to the pressure on Nord Stream-2, they are ready to sue over delays and lost profits with anyone. In addition, none of the consortium members at any stage of the project's implementation concealed their readiness for closer cooperation with the Russian gas giant.
Let us also remind that Nord Stream 2 could begin gas supplies to the German Greifswald from the Russian Ust-Luga as early as 2020, which is now unlikely. Germany could receive up to 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year. Here are all six arguments of American journalists with short comments on each of them.
The first suggests possible pressure from the German federal authorities on the mining administration and the two Stralsund agencies - the maritime and hydrographic ones - to revoke previously issued building permits.
Even taking into account the enviable, by Russian standards, independence of the federal lands, one must understand that this is not easy. But something else is more important: it is very expensive. Only legal costs can amount to an amount equal to the cost of almost the entire project as a whole - almost 10 billion euros.
Are the top officials of Germany ready to actually buy out Nord Stream-2 just to close it? Unless, of course, Washington pays, although such a tranche cannot be hidden by any means and means.
The second American version is designed for long litigation with environmentalists. After all, those are trying to convince the world that Russian gas can affect the warming in the Old World. After Germany has taken a course of abandoning the atom, coal and oil, the public there can believe anything, but there is no real alternative to gas, and the "green" arguments against it work badly.
The third opportunity Politico calls a national restriction on the import of Russian gas in the "interests of security." The authors, and not only them, find it hard to believe that someone in Germany is really ready today to talk seriously about the reality of the "Russian threat".
The last three options from Politico are a little more complicated, since they talk about Germany, as it were, throwing off possible sanctions on the European Union, or giving the US the right to restrictive measures, since they oppose the implementation of the project. Finally, the start of Nord Stream-2 operation may be significantly delayed due to the operator's need to obtain a license.
All this is nothing more than bureaucracy in its most sophisticated European Union form, but the most piquant thing is games with a license to the operator, the German one, let us note from ourselves, Nord Stream-2 AG. Gogol's non-commissioned officer's widow is just resting.
And a little about a bright future
How long will it take to convince us that Germany can cancel Nord Stream-2? Until the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. When will the US presidential election. But about the American elections below.
In the meantime, we note that it is not worth pushing the "Nord Stream-2" for Germany at least for the future. Indeed, in the future, most likely, not so distant, when hydrogen fuel will become not unique, but massive, this gas will be easy to add to natural gas and deliver it to Europe.
Why? This is because only the Russian nuclear power industry is capable of ensuring mass production of hydrogen in the foreseeable future at prices and on a scale comparable to pipeline natural gas and LNG. In all other cases, hydrogen suitable as fuel is very expensive and very little. And this is for a long time, most likely, for a very long time.
Academician N.N.Ponomarev-Stepnoy spoke about the prospects of atomic-hydrogen energy, and its concept was developed in closed Soviet institutions back in the 70s. Basically, it boils down to the formula "water inlet plus cheap atomic energy give out hydrogen, oxygen and clean energy, as well as water as waste."
The implementation of the atomic-hydrogen concept so far rests only on the absence of operating and suitable for mass production of hydrogen engines, although in Japan they have already moved things off the ground, and in the notorious Chernobyl syndrome.
Summing up, let us make the assumption that all the acuteness of the confrontation around Nord Stream 2 will subside as soon as the presidential elections in the United States are held. Moreover, the general pacification will not in the least depend on their results. The fact is that, in fact, the disruption of a global project, into which billions have already been invested, is hardly beneficial even to its potential competitors.
Billions have been invested in Nord Stream-2, not only and not so much by Russian Gazprom, but by transnational corporations that are much less dangerous for the United States and the West as a whole. And this, together with the fact that their shareholders are tens of thousands of the "powerful of this world", is just the main thing.
The main thing is that these corporations are either already involved, or can be involved in the implementation of almost any competitive project. Now the market for the supply of hydrocarbon raw materials is highly competitive, but in the future it is by no means overcrowded.
Especially taking into account the global green trend, which can greatly slow down both a peaceful atom and a number of other energy projects of a planetary scale. Hydrogen, on the other hand, which is ideal in terms of emissions and follows natural gas, is not only tempting, but really inspiring.