15:37 GMT10 April 2021
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    German Chancellor Angela Merkel has reportedly told officials that “a final decision has not been taken” on the future of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project following Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny’s alleged ‘poisoning’. Washington has pressured Berlin to cancel the project, with Warsaw actively supporting its US allies on the issue.

    Poland is ready to offer Germany access to its Baltic Pipe gas pipeline project in place of Nord Stream 2, Polish government spokesman Piotr Muller has said.

    “Poland has from the very beginning emphasized that European solidarity in this area should be unambiguous. Therefore, if such a need is expressed by the German side, Poland is open to the idea of using the infrastructure which it is building for its own energy security,” Muller said, speaking to Polish television.

    According to the spokesman, Nord Stream 2 is problematic for Poland and Europe because it contradicts the idea of European solidarity and energy security.

    Baltic Pipe project map
    Baltic Pipe project map

    Mueller’s comments come in the wake of reports by German media Tuesday that Chancellor Merkel told Christian Democratic Union-Christian Social Union faction leaders that a decision on the future of Nord Stream 2 in connection with the alleged ‘poisoning’ of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny had not been made, and that Europe would need to come up with a united response on the matter.

    Since its announcement last week that it would be treating the Navalny case as an “attempted murder by poisoning,” the German government has faced pressure to cancel the $10.5 billion Nord Stream 2 project, with some German lawmakers as well as Berlin’s foreign allies suggesting abandoning the nearly finished pipeline to ‘punish’ Russia.

    However, other lawmakers, including Die Linke’s Klaus Ernst and Alternative fur Deutschland’s Waldemar Herdt, have urged the government not to ‘shoot itself in the foot’ by abandoning the project, and emphasized that Germany stands to become the main benefactor of Nord Stream 2 economically, environmentally and strategically.

    Nord Stream 2 is a joint venture between Russia’s Gazprom and major Western European energy companies including Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall, Austria’s OMV, France’s Engie, and the UK/Dutch conglomorate Royal Dutch Shell. When completed, the project will double the existing 55 billion cubic meter per year capacity of the Nord Stream network, and turn Germany into an energy hub for deliveries to countries further west and south.

    Baltic Pipe is a proposed natural gas pipeline between Poland and oil-rich Norwegian waters in the North Sea which Warsaw currently expects to be completed by October 2022. The 800-950 km pipeline, construction of which is yet to begin, is expected to have a gas transportation capacity of 10 billion cubic meters per year from Norway to Denmark and Poland, as well as a 3 billion cubic meter per annum reverse capacity from Poland to Denmark. Poland’s state-owned gas company PGNiG has reserved a little over two billion cubic meters of gas to be pumped through the pipeline every year. Other countries have yet to express interest, with Germany previously expressing skepticism over the project, citing environmental concerns.

    Comparing Apples and Oranges

    On Tuesday, Polish energy expert Jakub Wiech told Republika TV that it was “pointless” to compare Baltic Pipe to Nord Stream 2, with the former meant mainly to allow Poland to reduce its dependence on supplies of Russian gas, while Nord Stream 2 has five times the capacity and the ability to send gas flowing deep into Europe.
    Map of Nord Stream, which runs from Russia's Vyborg through the Baltic Sea to Greifswald, northeastern Germany.
    © Photo : Samuel Bailey
    Map of Nord Stream, which runs from Russia's Vyborg through the Baltic Sea to Greifswald, northeastern Germany.

    In addition to Poland, Nord Stream 2 is actively opposed by the Baltic nations of Latvia and Lithuania, as well as the United States, which imposed sanctions on the project in December 2019 and has sought to sell Germany and Eastern Europe its more expensive, tanker-delivered liquefied natural gas. Last Tuesday, less than a day before she announced the Navalny ‘poisoning’ allegations, Merkel told reporters that Nord Stream 2 would be completed regardless of fresh threats by US senators to introduce new sanctions against the project.

    Germany unveiled its ‘poisoning’ claims on Wednesday, with a Bundeswehr chemical analysis of Navalny’s samples reportedly finding traces of a ‘Novichok’ group poison in his system. Russian officials denied the allegations, pointing out that Russian doctors treating Navalny before his transfer to Berlin had found no signs of any poison, and complaining that German doctors and authorities have yet to provide them with any evidence to back up their allegations.

    Navalny fell ill on August 20 during a flight back to Moscow from the Siberian city of Tomsk. After he became violently sick, the commercial plane carrying him made an emergency landing in Omsk, another Siberian city. There, doctors worked for hours to save his life. On August 22, a chartered plane took him from Omsk to a clinic in Berlin. On Monday, German doctors announced that Navalny had come out of a coma and that his condition “has improved.”

    Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Russia’s SVR Foreign Intelligence Agency, told Sputnik last week that it “cannot be excluded” that the Navalny saga was a provocation by Western special services.

    Related:

    Angela Merkel Doesn't Rule Out Nord Stream 2 Sanctions Amid Pressure From German Politicians
    'Absolutely Counterproductive': Bundestag Member Slams Calls to Halt Nord Stream 2 Over Navalny Case
    Merkel Reportedly Says Decision on Future of Nord Stream 2 Will Be Made by Europe, Not Germany
    No Other Project as Gainful for Europe as Nord Stream 2, German Lawmaker Says
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