In a recent interview with the Swiss outlet Neue Zuericher Zeitung, the CEO of German chemical conglomerate BASF Martin Brudermueller has defended the Russian-European natural gas pipeline project Nord Stream 2.
The top manager of the company, who is a lender in the venture via its subsidiary Wintershall Dea, said that it will make the gas supply to Europe more competitive. Although the businessman noted that the Americans’ wish to sell more liquefied natural gas is normal, he pointed to additional CO2 emissions when using it and it being more expensive than natural gas from Russia.
He also voiced a critical opinion about the US warning to impose sanctions against European firms, linked to the project, branding it “a very unclear situation”. He noted that the project, involving BASF, was launched before sanctions were even discussed and insisted that it should be exempt from new sanctions while the sanction bill, introduced to the US Congress, was retroactive and broader in scope.
“But we, Europeans, should stop tolerating the Americans deciding on such a project”, he said, however, noting: “We count on that, in the end, common sense wins, and no sanctions against European companies will be imposed”.
He also spoke positively about his company’s experience of working with Gazprom. Brudermueller explained that when Europe is cold and needs a lot of natural gas quickly, “it is the Russians who turn the valve on”. The BASF CEO, however, also noted that the pipeline running through Ukraine should remain in use to a certain extent.
“Russia is an important geostrategic partner of Europe in the long term, especially with regard to energy. It must be our goal to bring Russia back into the international community”, he urged, noting that a mutual interest links the West and Moscow because “while the Russians want to sell natural gas, the West needs it”.
He called to balance political and economic requirements, noting that they have been building up business between Russian gas suppliers and European customers for years.
“Now we are entering a phase of greater unrest. Nevertheless, we should keep a cool head”, the BASF boss insisted.
The Nord Stream 2 project envisages the building of a twin pipeline that will deliver around 55 billion cubic metres (almost 2 trillion cubic feet) of gas directly to Germany and other European countries. Despite the support in Germany, Austria and other European countries, the US has been trying to discourage its allies that are part of the Nord Stream 2’s construction from pursuing the project over its alleged threats to European security. Washington has also been trying to force Russian natural gas out of Europe and sell its own liquefied natural gas at higher prices.
Recently, US Senators suggested that the United States should be able to impose at least five types of sanctions on individuals or entities that insure or underwrite pipe-laying ships engaged in the construction of Russian pipelines for energy exports below sea level. The corresponding bill was introduced in Congress in May.