Former Austrian Ambassador to Russia Friedrich Bauer has warned that EU countries may pay the price for abandoning the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project at “the current stage”.
According to him, natural gas supplies from Russia are much more profitable than US Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) given that the bloc would have to build a full-fledged infrastructure for US deliveries.
Bauer noted that Russian gas is cheaper and better in terms of quality and that it is “clean enough”.
"In any case, a lot of investments were made in the Nord Stream project so scrapping all this and starting to buy American [liquefied] gas will be too costly. This is all about expenses, not about love for Russia,” he pointed out.
Bauer added that the project’s strategic goal is to build a pipeline that will bypass Ukraine.
“If the Ukrainian constitution stipulates the country joining NATO, then Russia needs to think about whether it should supply gas to a NATO member, a consideration that is [quite] logical,” he said.
Bauer also referred to what he described as “reliable information” about Ukraine previously using Russian gas without paying for it as well as Kiev failing to repay its debts to the Russian gas giant Gazprom.
Denmark Nods Baltic Pipe Construction on Its Soil Amid Its Efforts to Hamper Nord Stream 2
His remarks came a day after the Danish energy agency Energistyrelsen approved the Baltic Pipe link crossing Denmark’s territory on the pipeline’s way from Norway to Poland, according to the Polish Gaz-System operator. Due to be fully operational by October 1, 2022, the Baltic Pipe is seen by Warsaw as an instrument to drive out Russia from the Central and Eastern European energy market.
Earlier, Rainer Seele, head of Austrian oil and gas company OMV, one of Nord Stream 2’s operators, expressed hope that a construction permit from Denmark will finally be secured, and that there would be no need to discuss alternative routes for the pipeline.
He spoke after Reuters cited sources as saying that the Nord Stream 2 project’s completion might be delayed by up to eight months and cost an additional $740 million due to Denmark’s delays in approving applications to lay the pipeline infrastructure through between 147 km and 175 km of the country’s waters.
In June, Nord Stream 2 AG withdrew its initial application to route the pipeline through Danish territorial waters south of the island of Bornholm, while the two other options would see the pipeline routed through Denmark’s exclusive economic zone.
Over 76% of Nord Stream 2 Pipeline Complete, Gazprom Says
Gazprom has, meanwhile, said that the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline continues and that “to this date, 1,882 kilometres [1,169 miles] of pipes — over 76% of Nord Stream 2’s total length — has been laid across the Baltic Sea”.
The project has repeatedly drawn opposition from a number of countries, especially Ukraine, which claims that Moscow plans to deprive Kiev of its gas transition revenues.
The US, which is trying to sell more of its own liquefied natural gas to its overseas allies, insists that the project will make Europe more dependent on Moscow. Russia has repeatedly rebuffed the claims, having accused the US of trying to use tools of “unfair competition under various political pretexts”. Moscow has repeatedly said that the pipeline is a purely commercial project, while pointing out that Washington is trying to exert pressure on the EU so as to promote the US’ own LNG exports.
Due to be finished before the end of this year, the Nord Stream 2 project is a joint venture between Gazprom and five European companies: France's ENGIE, Austria's OMV, the UK-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell, and Germany's Uniper and Wintershall. The 745-mile-long twin pipeline will carry up to 55 billion cubic meters (1.942 trillion cubic feet) of gas per year from Russia to Germany.