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    Analyst on Nord Stream 2: Austria Has Europe's Support, Able to Stand Up to US

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    Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said in an interview after a meeting with Donald Trump that Vienna will continue supporting the Nord Stream 2 project despite the US opposition. Sputnik has discussed the issue with Sukrit Vijayakar, founder and director of Trifecta Consultants, which offers consultancy services in the area of oil and gas markets.

    Sputnik: Why is Mr Kurz so vested into supporting the project despite the US opposition to it?

    Sukrit Vijayakar: Well, there are two or three reasons. First of all, you need to have more suppliers. Just relying on the US or Qatar from the Middles East to supply gas is not enough. If you have more suppliers that means you are less vulnerable to fluctuations in supply. Secondly, Russia is much closer to Europe physically than the US is. So, it takes less time for the gas to be transported, which means that it eventually leads to lower financial costs and it is easy to increase and reduce volumes that you require. It gives you greater flexibility in operations.

    Sputnik: Now Mr Kurz says that Donald Trump as a former businessman should understand that Russia is more attractive for Austria as a gas supplier. I am sure he does that actually and do you think there is an understanding between Vienna and Washington on this matter? How likely is Washington to exercise further pressure on its European partners over the project? I mean, I am sure Donald Trump understands the competition but at the end of the day, he is a salesman. He is trying to sell as much of the US' resources and products and services as much as possible. That is his agenda. And he is obviously putting "America First", we know that. But what is your take on this?

    Sukrit Vijayakar: President Trump's line has been to threaten people who do not fall in line with his wishes. Now, how many people is he going to threaten? He is already in a battle with OPEC because OPEC wants to raise oil prices. And raising oil prices will hurt his re-election chances. Everything else is secondary: the basic job of every politician is to get re-elected. Okay, so that is critical. If oil prices get too low, his friends in the oil industry will suffer losses, so he can't let the oil get too low anyway. On the issues of oil, he is already fighting with Venezuela, Iran, and OPEC. And he is having one big war with China on trade barriers. And the big war with China on trade barriers is a very grim one which could potentially throw the world into recession. In light of all this, putting pressure on friendly nations to deal with the US would take slightly a little lower priority. So I don't think he is too likely, Washington is too likely to exercise pressure on European partners. It is fighting the rest of the world, now you are going to fight Europe as well? It doesn't make too much sense to do that at this time. You need some friends in the world.

    Sputnik: Kurz says Austria is ready to promote the project Nord Stream 2. How much support could it eventually gain with the help of Vienna's efforts? We know that over the past few years, there is lots and lots of pressure being put to bear on this Nord Stream 2 project from the people who are against it in Europe. Do you think Austria now coming out and stating their promotion of the project is going to be really beneficial for the project to be finished now?

    Sukrit Vijayakar: Well, it is beneficial to the project to be finished because it is a small country, so President Trump cannot really bring artillery to kill a mosquito so to speak. So it is like a small rope that people threw across ships to get onto the other side and then they clamber across the rope and get onto bigger positions. That is the way I see it. Austria is not doing it on its own; it has the tacit support of the rest of Europe, the bigger players in Europe, definitely Germany for sure. Without that Austria wouldn't have, what do you say, the strength to stand up to the US really.

    Sputnik: Now Mr Kurz says that some sort of agreement on Nord Stream 2 has been achieved in Europe. Why are several European nations on board with the venture despite the tensions between Europe and Russia in some other domains? I mean it is clear that this has favour with certain elements of European Union and it is obviously got to its people who are against it like I would imagine Poland and etc., who've got stronger ties with America. It is interesting to hear your point of view, so clear obviously from your consultancy-based knowledge being in India and looking on, I mean you have got an interesting position there and that you have got closer ties with Russia and obviously with Europe as well. What is your take on that question?

    Sukrit Vijayakar: The take comes from the first part itself that Russia is geographically closer to Europe than the US. Therefore, it makes economic sense to obtain supplies from Russia because it gives oil players a lot of operations flexibility. When you import from the US, you are buying tanker loads, so it is a zero-one kind of thing, whereas pipeline allows you to take smaller lots at a time, thereby giving you greater flexibility.

    The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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