With Gazprom’s Nord Stream 2, Putin Is Getting Ready to Put the Screws on Europe

From Foreign Policy

The new pipeline won’t deliver energy security. It will make the EU more dependent on a capricious Russia.

By Mikhail Korchemkin| October 7, 2019, 6:24 PM

There is something Orwellian about the Russian energy giant Gazprom’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which will take natural gas from Russia to Europe via the Baltic Sea and Germany. The official rationale for the project is that Europe needs more gas, and this is the best way to get it. Yet the pipeline, combined with other planned projects, will actually reduce Russia’s export capacity. And even as Nord Stream 2 promises “the further diversification of energy routes to Europe,” it will actually concentrate Russian gas exports into a single pipeline corridor in the Baltic Sea, where it will bypass Ukraine and reduce that country’s gas load to 10 percent of current capacity.

It seems odd that European leaders, concerned about energy security and about the economic health of their partner, Ukraine, would welcome the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. But at least some European politicians are comfortable with the Kremlin’s promises that the project won’t harm Ukrainian interests. They shouldn’t be. Russian President Vladimir Putin has used Gazprom pipelines to hurt Europe and Ukraine before, and he’d probably do it again.

The development of additional pipeline would typically mean more gas supply, but only if the old pipeline routes are not destroyed. And unfortunately for European gas consumers, Gazprom plans to decommission export pipelines with a combined capacity several times higher than that of Nord Stream 2. In particular, it is targeting pipelines that are connected to Ukraine, through which it can export to Europe 146 billion cubic meters of gas annually. According to Gazprom’s “optimization program,” the company will reduce the capacity of pipelines delivering gas to the Russian-Ukrainian border to 10 billion to 15 billion cubic meters a year.

In other words, after the completion of Nord Stream 2, total Russian gas export capacity to Europe will be down by about 85 billion cubic meters annually. Already, according to the December 2018 issue of the corporate Gazprom magazine, the company has decommissioned three compressor shops that provide the pressure to move gas through pipelines and is working on four more. The plan foresees liquidation of more than 2,600 miles of pipelines and 62 compressor shops in all.

Since Nord Stream 2 will consolidate Russian exports along a single route, Europe will also be more vulnerable to supply outages, whether caused by disaster or by Putin’s whims.

Full article here.

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92 thoughts on “With Gazprom’s Nord Stream 2, Putin Is Getting Ready to Put the Screws on Europe

    • Yes that is due to our short sighted politicians. Our government is filled with radical green lefties.
      It is a policy that will end up hurting the dutch population financially and i hope a future government will undo that decission.

    • They will most likely convert coal plants to burn wood pellets to take advantage of the EU loophole that allows CO2 from biomass to be ignored.

      • Yep. Clearcut Virgin Canadian forests … grind up perfectly good timber into pellets … and ship it across the Atlantic in diesel powered ocean-going vessels. What could be more “green” than that?! I am sure The Tides Foundation is partnering with many First Nations leaders to surrender their tribal forest lands to this “new green carbon neutral” energy source for European nations.

        • Who is cutting virgin Canadian forests to make wood pellets. Unless I’m mistaken, most wood pellets come from pine plantations on pulp wood rotations.

          • Regardless of the source, it’s regression for no apparent reason. It’s like the whole freakin’ world wants to live like the Amish, and even the Amish don’t want to live like that!

          • Hey, Rocketscientist! You are being extremely insensitive to the Amish. Just think of how they will feel reading your remarks on the inter…. oh, um, gosh…

      • So …. if CO2 from burning (oxidizing) biomass in a furnace is OK, why is CO2 from burning (oxidizing) biomass in a cow vilified? OT I know but so much unconscious humour and irony around – like the CO2 phobic ER protestor holding a sign with pic of a tree & reading “Regenerate”.

    • Sorry to hear that. Seems like irresponsible decision, but I guess they will have to live with it.

      • It will make the EU more dependent on a capricious Russia.

        Russia has been a far more reliable partner for Europe than USA. The only problems there has been with supplies of Russian gas is because of Ukraine abusing the monopoly of pipelines going through their territory. That is why Russia is spending billions on NS2. They are even guaranteeing to retain flow through Ukraine, despite all the tensions.

        No one in EU is fooled by US claims of concern for european energy security as a means of forcing importation of their far more expensive LNG.

        • Your untruthful attempt to justify gas exports from murderous and corrupt police regime of Russia, the military aggressor who instigated a prolonged war in Ukraine and occupied territories in other neighboring countries, causing thousands of deaths and disasters, is appalling and revolting.

          Europeans would do much better relying on their own resources, including ecologically clean nuclear power, and weaning themselves from their dependency on importing gas from the fascist Russia.

          • Better yet rather than nuclear they should start building ecologically clean coal power stations which will deliver reliable electricity at a much lower cost. Not only that all that lovely sequestrated co2 can be returned to the biosphere and make the planet green again.

        • LNG is acting as the primary pricing mechanism for European gas.

          When LNG was $14/mmbtu 5 years ago, Russia sold Europe gas for about $12/mmbtu.

          LNG was $7 to $10/mmbtu the last 2 winters and Russia was around $6.

          Lots of LNG on the market right now. Europe filled up its LNG storage tanks at cheap prices this summer. It will be interesting to see what happens with pricing and market share this winter.

          • Having full tanks is the best way to get low prices. If they know you don’t NEED to buy it, you have the edge.

  1. This article makes a number of incorrect statements.
    Nordstream 1 has 55 bcm/y capacity; it has been in service for about 10 years. No interruptions ever, except for maintenance.
    Nordstream 2 has 55 bcm/y capacity; it will be in service in 2020

    The gas through Belarus and Poland will remain unchanged; those countries will continue to collect transit fees.
    One additional line to Turkey will be on line in 2020
    A new line to Greece, Italy and Hungary is under construction, likely will be in service about 2022-2023.

    Gas through Ukraine has been a problem because Ukraine, one of the most corrupt countries in the world and the poorest country in Europe, had been stealing TRANSIT gas destined for the EU on several occasions.

    Also it has refused to pay its bills for Russian gas already consumed by Ukraine.

    Russia insisted on adequate meters to monitor gas flows in and out of Ukraine, and insisted on cash upfront before gas delivery for Ukraine consumption.

    The Ukraine/Russian gas contract ends at the end of 2019.
    Thus far Ukraine, under corrupt Poroshenko, has refused to enter in negotiations for a new contract.

    Finally the EU in Brussels is applying pressure to have Ukraine sign a contract for a part of its own consumption.

    • Quite right, the article is just another propaganda piece from the school of ‘Trump conspired with Putin to win the election.’

      • I recall that the problem with Russian gas delivery stemmed from the customer’s inability to pay, not Russia’s unwillingness to sell at fair proces.

        • Engineer 1,

          Ukraine’s inability to pay came about due to most of the economy being OFF THE BOOKS, i.e., not taxable, similar to Greece, another basket case. The government was broke.

          It was a gross idiocy for the US to “steal” Ukraine away from Russia in 2014.

          Russia and Ukraine have a longterm gas supply contract (due to end at end of of 2019) that Ukraine refused to abide by, i.e., pay at agreed prices for Russian gas consumed.

          When Russia cut off supplies to Ukraine, Ukraine increased its stealing of TRANSIT gas destined for Europe.

          Putin and Russia was blamed by everyone, whereas “newly acquired darling” Ukraine was the real culprit.

          The US would do itself a big favor to completely ignore Ukraine.

          It is of no use to Russia, or the EU, or the US

          • “The US would do itself a big favor to completely ignore Ukraine.

            It is of no use to Russia, or the EU, or the US”

            U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said this morning that he would be visiting Ukraine and other countries in Europe in the next few days for the purpose of selling them U.S. natural gas.

            Of course, Ukraine was/is a very corrupt country, but Trump is keeping tabs on them and isn’t going to be giving them any money if corruption rears its ugly head. That’s one thing the phone call between Trump and the new Ukrainian president was about.

          • Military aid was about giving US built weapons , not ‘money’
            The EU actually is an even bigger supplier of aid ‘monies’, often tied to specific projects.
            “We are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes,” Zelensky said, according to a summary of the call released by the White House.

            Trump responded: “I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.”
            Trump may know more about corruption than Ukraine does as New York state is looking into a certain property developers real estate taxes.

          • More on the US money spent in US on US weapons and equipment for Ukraine, not ‘ money’ sent to the government.
            “The vast majority of the funds, approved with bipartisan support in Congress, has financed items such as sniper rifles; rocket-propelled grenade launchers; counter-artillery radars; command and control and communications systems; night vision goggles; medical equipment; as well training and logistical support.”
            https://www.politico.com/news/2019/09/30/ukraine-united-states-military-aid-013792

          • EdB
            October 18, 2019 at 7:48 am

            Are you a Russian agent?

            Yeah, you sound like a god-damn commie to me !! LOL

          • Russia is much more corrupt now than Ukraine, where at least a legitimately elected president is trying to instill accountability while being harassed by lawless Russian mercenaries occupying Eastern Ukraine. Not to mention Crimea being stolen by Putin in contempt of all laws, agreements, and treaties.

            Russian state gas company, Gazprom, is in the hands of murderous bandits who channel profits to their personal offshore bank accounts. Russia is mired in poverty and political persecution.

            Putin’s regime deserves being cut off any export opportunities, it is a criminal totalitarian junta with no idea of independent media, independent courts, or independent business, supportig the worst dictatorships all over the world.

            Shame on advocates of this abomination that brings Russia itself, and everything it touches with its dirty hands, to suffering and ruin.

        • Of course, Russia refused to ‘pay’ for its annexation of Crimea. They should have just entered into an agreement to buy it for gas.

      • You nailed it, Peter.

        The fact is that like any partner in a business deal, Russia will be just as dependent upon the money received for their gas as Europe will be upon buying / receiving the gas.
        Why would Russia shoot itself in the foot by ever cutting off the flow (“putting the screws on Europe”)?
        The pipeline helps guarantee peaceful co-existence.

        • Because Putin plays ‘Great Power politics’. He’s not particularly interested the effect of his policies on the Russian economy (or everyday Russians). He’s only interested in the influence he can exert on the EU countries.

    • Thanks WP for providing these facts!
      Nord Stream 1 is a parallell gas line that’s been operational without any troubles for 10 years, providing N.Europe with cheap Russian natural gas.
      “There is something Orwellian about the Russian energy giant Gazprom’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline project”. No, this is more than anything else about USA wanting to sell expensive LNG to Europe.

    • You say the Ukraine is corrupt. That seems to be true. On the other hand, Russia seems to be more corrupt. link Also, Russia has stolen Ukrainian territory and would be happy to steal more.

      In this context, when you accuse the Ukraine of corruption, I worry about your motivation and mistrust your message.

      • CommieBob, you normally do much better than this. The eastern Ukrainian ethnic Russian population has gone trough a very complex history, so please don’t simplify with low pan rhetoric.

      • Crimea is historically part of Russia, and was never part of Ukraine until 1954 when Khrushchev (a Ukrainian) illegally gave Ukraine administrative control over it. So Crimea returning to Russia appears to be a wrong righted.

      • The old joke about Ukraine is that they will be members of the EU fully right after Turkey.

        Both are basket cases. It was the sweetheart deal Russia gave them that Obama and Clinton couldn’t stand so they overthrew the gov and promptly lost Crimea forever.

        Obama and Clinton, the gift that keeps giving

    • thanks for that I knew it too but you stated it better than I could
      Ukraine was busted basically stealing as well something about saying it went through but doing deals to suck it back via elsewhere?
      dunno was a while back and fiddly
      Crimea voted to stay with Russia and not go the eurocrat way
      good on em

    • I am always amazed at the thoroughness of Putzin’s (sic) pet trolls. They track everything looking for slights against their diminutive puppet master. They may be morally degenerate but you have admire their skills.

      • Russia is an ideology free oil supplier, contrary to KSA, Qatar or Iran etc. They are also Science based, not religion.
        Only a few Americans worry about Russia – mostly in Langley. They better start worrying about their common adversary – Xi China and its PLA. Russia can never invade continental US or even Alaska, but China can easily invade Siberia. It is only the Russian nukes that keep them out. Financially China has also hundred times more cloud: therefore US 1% are in bed with them.

  2. Who is surprised at anything Putin dreams up to put pressure on neighbors and secure their cooperation? This sounds to me like a great opportunity for American Fracking gas producers to produce liquified natural gas and ship it to (first Britain after BREXIT) Europe. Sounds like the price is going up over there so no problem with profitability. As cold as it is predicted to be this coming winter even Extinction Rebellion would probably like the idea because there is not a readily available alternative, unless you think freezing to death is for the good of the cause.

  3. That is completely absurd. Even the Soviet Union during the Cold War delivered gas very reliably. Now, there are even much fewer reasons to doubt that Russia is a reliable partner for energy security.

    Of course, the US is against Nordstream because it would like to make EU countries dependent on itself and Saudi Arabia. That way, the US could blackmail the EU much more easily.

    Some US politicians are quite open about why they oppose Nordstream. They want to sell Europeans liquefied US gas, which is significantly more expensive and ecologically worse than Russian gas from pipelines.

    There are quite a number of European politicians who put US interests before the interests of their own countries – some because they are paid by “transatlantic” NGOs. But in the end, European self-interest will probably prevail. During the Cold War, the US also agitated against the pipelines from the Soviet Union, but the European interest in a reliable source of gas from pipelines prevailed.

      • It is sobering to read . . .

        I’m with you Guilherme. Although I haven’t (yet) today imbibed to the point of besotted revelry, I know that when I do later, after (re)reading Adrian’s comment all the USD I spent getting there will have been to nought. At least I’ll be legal to drive.

        Speaking of USD to nought, I wish I could be there with you and Compalrade Adrian so we three all could Jones more (you know – in that super-special-suspeciously [sic] Alexian sense) on this argument:

        Of course, the US is against Nordstream because it would like to make EU countries dependent on itself and Saudi Arabia. That way, the US could blackmail the EU much more easily.

        Hooray! As an American taxpayer of no repute at all, up to this point I had always thought it tragic that every year billions of USD flow over your way (if you’re one of them there EUians, that is – maybe your важный район is a bit further east?) in bloated, ethereal pipelines, only for us USians to proceed to blackmail you EUians into doing our evil bidding. And we do as you surely know. And this solely in order that we get our Usury on, if you’re gittin’ that what Ima driftin’ over, and I know you are.

        Good to know that’s never really been true, but rather all these decades we’ve actually been waiting for a gas pipeline not to be built.

        • One thing is for certain… «I am not a “EUian”»… I voted against it, and I will vote to get out of it if the issue were ever to come again to a popular vote.

          • One thing is for certain… «I am not a ‘EUian’»…

            I knew it! Or at least I hadn’t lost that loving feeling. Thanks for the confirmation Ghuilherme. Good to know that contrary to them there “EUian” types, my USD *was* well spent at Jones’s “How-To: Epistemology” seminar.

    • And when Russia invaded Ukraine despite promises to protect them if they gave up there nukes EU and US did nothing because EU didn’t dare get gas cut off.

    • “Adrian E. October 18, 2019 at 3:12 am

      They want to sell Europeans liquefied US gas, which is significantly more expensive and ecologically worse than Russian gas from pipelines.”

      How so?

  4. From the EEGA website About section:
    “East European Gas Analysis, a Pennsylvania-based consulting firm founded in January 1995”

    Being Pennsylvania-based, I kind of understand the hostility to Russian competition.

  5. Hey, this is just bizness going on. When you put gas in the car’s tank, you find the gas station with the lowest price first and go there. If Vlad’s prices are lower, the customers will go for that.

    • Sums it up pretty well. I was going to say something else, but glad that I read the comments first.

  6. Oil and gas is the main export of Russia and it needs the money NG brings to stay afloat. Shutting it off to Europe would have as serious repercussions to Russia as to Europe so it seems highly unlikely that would occur.

    Raising the price of the gas might be possible but LNG coming out of the US will limit that along with long term contracts. I don’t see this being an issue.

  7. Meanwhile Britain should get out of the EU and start fracking We oldies remember the North Sea dividend; not that it was particularly well spent; but did get us out of a hole.
    The fracking dividend now awaits and the EU may well in the future be grateful to us for our perspicacity should Russia ever decide to squeeze.

  8. “It will make the EU more dependent on a capricious Russia” Sorry, but after reading some news of the “genius” in the white house I’d think that the US policy in these days is much more “capricious” at least.

  9. Russia supplies 80% of gas to the EU zone, and has done for 20 years(?).

    Who saw this coming? Putin!

    Well played Putin, well played.

    UK wants out of the EU. The EU becomes a slave to Russia.

    • Russia supplies 35% to 40% to Europe’s gas consumption.
      A lot of that gas is used to make plastic parts.
      The US supplies about 1%, as LNG
      Russian pipeline gas is about 25% less costly than LNG.
      Germany is in favor of Nordstream 2; end of story.
      Germany is doing some window dressing by building a LNG to NG facility near Bremen, but its capacity is very small.

  10. From Germany

    We are ‘suffering’ of these horrible Russian screws since quite long a time, and still are alive.

    And our grand-children luckily won’t have to suffer (here without quotes) of fracking’s denied consequences on the aquifers.

    Good luck with that, CONUS!

  11. This may be the real reason for Merkel’s support for Russian gas.
    “Anger over ex-German leader’s role in gas pipeline from Russia”

  12. I am german. Putin can be trusted more than USA/Saudi-Arabia. You want the sell YOUR Oil and therefore yoo fight against russia. I don’t like the USA anymore.

      • Russia HSS been invaded by European countries way more than vice versa. History is not your forte.

        Bismarck was right. If Germany and Russia are allies there will be no war in central or east Europe.

          • Shallow comment. Bismarck was fired in 1890, forced resignation. He predicted “a 7 year war within 20 years”, now known as WWI. WWII was phase 2 of WWI.
            The year before his death, Bismarck again predicted: “One day the great European War will come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans.”
            Kaiser Wilhelm II who got in after Bismarck, and Emperor Nicholas II of Russia, both nephews of King Edward VII of Britain, were set upon each other by their “uncle” as they called him. Bismarck railed against these failed aristocrats, knowing the uncle’s taste for 7 year wars.
            Just look at the damage! Bismarck was more than right!

  13. The ironic thing is that with the current trajectory of European politics, Putin won’t need any pressure at all to get Europe to do anything he wants.
    They will do it voluntarily.

  14. This is complete cobblers. Putin and Russian gas companies wanted to build South Stream through the Balkans to Austria but the US played hardball to stop it. The US is doing everything to stop Nordstream II, which by this argument would cut out far more gas to Europe than Gazprom actually building it.

    If anti-Putin propagandists want to be consistent they should be giving the US hell for constantly opposing Russian pipeline projects and trying to sell vastly more expensive LNG instead.

    Americans may be deluded by this propaganda but Europeans are not….

  15. “Putin Is Getting Ready to Put the Screws on Europe”

    No, they are doing business. Together.

    You’re using WUWT to spread seriously bogus propaganda, Chuck.

  16. What a propaganda BS. Europe has a lot of LNG import terminals, capacity totally unused (on level of less than 50%). Maybe there is a reason why LNG is not being imported, and Russian gas (through pipes) is preferred. Blocking pipes forces Europe to buy LNG. And 3 new export terminal in US are just coming online. Surely, if Bazhenov Basin (West Siberia) lands in good hands then NS3 and NS4, and maybe other as well will be built.

    • WAM,

      At this very minute Europe’s LNG storage tanks are basically full. Summer 2019 imports were basically at 100% of capacity.

      LNG is apparently cheaper to buy and store for 6 months than Russia is expected to sell it for this winter.

      I don’t know how much traditional natural gas storage Europe has. Maybe it too is full?

  17. European dependence on Russian natural gas has been a problem for decades. Europe needs the gas, Russia needs the money, so the pipelines continue.

    The problem comes when Russia wants to take over some territory (such as Crimea in 2014), and Europe is hesitant to apply economic sanctions because they might freeze the next winter if Putin closes the gas spigot.

    What the USA needs to do is build LNG export terminals along our east coast, so that we can sell LNG to Europe (or elsewhere, if Europe doesn’t want it). That way, if Europe needs to apply sanctions to Russia, the US can keep the Europeans supplied with gas until Russia relents.

    • “What the USA needs to do is build LNG export terminals along our east coast, so that we can sell LNG to Europe (or elsewhere, if Europe doesn’t want it). That way, if Europe needs to apply sanctions to Russia, the US can keep the Europeans supplied with gas until Russia relents.”

      I think that is what U.S. Energy Secretary Perry has in mind as he travels to Ukraine and other European countries next week.

      • Perry just resigned, effective end of 2019.

        The Europeans are no fools when it comes to doing business.
        They get rich because of their great surpluses and their vast profitable overseas holdings, plus spending as little as possible on wasteful defense and wealth-drawing wars.

        LNG from the Middle East would be less costly than LNG from the US

        Iran and Venezuela have the largest gas reserves in the world. Just google.
        Thé US labels them as enemies, but Europe, China, etc., need their gas.

        Stay tuned.

  18. as we learned from an article in today’s (2019-10-18) New York Times, US domestic oil producers are flaring or otherwise releasing enormous amounts of methane (first turning it into CO2 in the case of flaring) simply because they dont make sufficient profit by capturing it.

    If I was CEO of a gas producer, I’d figure out how to incentivize fleet operators to convert gasoline delivery trucks, taxis (Ubers?), etc. to use natural gas. Obviously no oil company is going to do this, but the result might be to get oil companies to stop throwing away energy.

    Just sayin’

  19. I am certain that if oil plants produced sufficient methane in a small number of locations, it would be profitable to build and install a gas collection system to harvest this waste methane.

    It appears obvious that the amounts of gas are to low to make it economic to collect.

    Just because we can see a methane flare does not mean it is worth while capturing it.

    • Steve, the issue is major pipeline capacity to places like west Texas (the Permian).

      It costs a billion or two to build a natural gas pipeline from the Houston area.

      And equally important it takes a couple years to build. The Permian is adding production faster than natural gas pipelines can be built.

      • Litigation to block pipeline construction is ongoing in several states . cf The Marcellus , in Eastern PA .

  20. Besides the Atlantic Council smell of the lead report above, just look at what Russia did –
    Russian Government Responds to Industrialists, Opts Out of Climate Protocol

    Oct. 18, 2019 (EIRNS)–The Russian government has drastically watered down its new package of climate change legislation after push-back from the country’s leading businesses, the {Kommersant} business daily reported yesterday, according to {Moscow Times}.
    Plans for quotas on carbon emissions at Russia’s largest companies, a new national carbon trading system and penalties for the biggest so-called “polluters” have now been scrapped. Instead, Russia will only go ahead with proposals to measure and collect data on emissions as part of a five-year green audit.
    The campaign against a stricter package of measures was led by the influential Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP), one of the main lobbying groups for Russia’s largest businesses. The new laws were set to be introduced as part of Russia’s ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement. RSPP has successfully killed off the entire second phase, including plans to set individual company quotas or
    targets, arguing that the government should await the results of the climate audit before introducing new laws and regulations to hold firms accountable for their emissions.

    There you have it – someone is very annoyed at this sheer insubordination, disrespect, even downright industrial . Deplorable! Yikes, could President Trump be influencing Russian politics, shudder the thought!

  21. Incredibly idiotic article.
    The only Russian gas exports that have ever been interrupted were due to the Ukraine stealing in-transit gas for its own use, as well as holding the gas transit hostage – as the USSR era gas pipelines to Europe all went through Ukraine.
    Even a cursory glance at the author’s background shows this: “East European Gas Analysis”
    Nordstream 1 and 2 are completely bypassing Eastern Europe gas transit. Author is talking his own book.

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