Nord Stream 2 will increase European energy security – German MP
Nord Stream 2, the gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, is in jeopardy due to strong opposition from Eastern Europe and the US. Will the project survive? We ask the energy speaker of the Christian Democratic Union party in the German Bundestag, Joachim Pfeiffer....MORE
Sophie Shevardnadze: Joachim Pfeiffer, Energy speaker of the Christian Democratic Union party in the German Bundestag, welcome to the show. It’s great to have you with us. Lot’s to discuss. Germany has given the green light to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will bring natural gas from Russia to Germany directly via the Baltic sea. Poland and the Baltic states and other EU members oppose the project. But opposition to the project comes from countries who currently do transit business with Gazprom - and stand to lose it if the pipeline is built. So is it about actually trying to reduce dependence or really about lost revenues?
Joachim Pfeiffer: First of all, I think, it’s good to have a project like Nord Stream 2 because it brings diversification - diversification into transport of natural gas. More routes and more diversification means more liquidity in the European market and it increases security of supply not only for Germany, it increases the security of supply all over Europe. So basically I think, it’s a good idea to have this additional pipeline.
SS: Sure, but why do you think countries in the European Union oppose it? Because they’re losing revenues or because they want to reduce dependence? What is the core cause of the opposition?
JP: I think, it’s a mixture. Of course, maybe in Ukraine the fear that they will lose transit capacity or transport fees. But I personally think that Ukraine will be in the game in the future as well but they also have to invest in their infrastructure because their infrastructure is quite old and there are billions of investments needed. There’s opposition from Poland as well. Poland fears to be even more dependent on the Russian gas. But I think, if we have a diversification, if we have more pipeline routes - we have Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2, we have the Yamal, we have the Ukrainian transit, we have several capacities and pipelines in the Mediterranean Sea and then we have a lot of LNG terminals (at the moment they are not fully used, their capacity is only used by 15-20 per cent) - so, I think, this brings competition to the gas market. We also have storage capacity all over Europe. Competition normally brings lower prices and so the consumer and also our industry can benefit from it. And therefore, we have to convince our other European partners that it’s a good idea.
SS: Gas supplies to Europe have been disrupted several times in the past years because of Kiev-Moscow disputes, over Ukrainian gas import debts. So isn’t Moscow’s goal to avoid the unreliable transit partner legitimate enough - and isn’t Nord Stream 2 going to bring a more reliable gas supply to Europe?
JP: Nord Stream 2 is the shortest way to bring gas to the Central Europe. And in the European Union we’re still working on the combined single market on energy and gas as well. And so we implement, for example, reversed flows so that we can also supply the countries in Southern or Eastern Europe. So, hopefully, we will have an additional increasing of the security of supply.
SS: So, of course, when it comes to gas and oil, and energy in general it often becomes a political thing. For instance, the Polish Prime Minister sees Nord Stream 2 as a political project aimed at undermining Central Europe. There’s a Ukrainian member of parliament who is comparing Nord Stream 2 to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact of 1939. How are statements like that affecting the project’s perception in your country, in Germany?
JP: We say and we think that it’s not a political project. It’s a private project. It’s privately motivated and privately financed, there’s no public finances. If you look at what the Polish government now tries to establish - they have an LNG terminal and they also want to build a new pipe - this system may be or will be supported by the European Union and I welcome this project as well because it also diversifies the routes and the markets. So it can bring more competition and more security of supply.
SS: The European Commission wants to take over Nord Stream 2 negotiations from Germany and bog them down in bureaucracy and red tape - while the Germans insist it’s their right to handle talks on their own. Will Berlin confront Brussels over this?
JP: We’re negotiating at the moment and, as I mentioned before, we want to have a single European energy market in gas as well. But we also have a national energy mix so far. For example, in Germany we decided to phase out nuclear. Others decided to phase in nuclear or to stay with nuclear. And if the European Commission takes over responsibility or give final approval for pipelines or LNG projects or storage facilities it would affect directly this national sovereignty on the energy mix. So I think, it’s not a good idea to have it from this perspective....