German MPs want response to US sanctions on Nord Stream 2 gas pipe

Author: Diane Pallardy

2020/06/18

LONDON (ICIS)--The German Parliament’s committee on economic affairs and energy has asked the government to prepare proposals for a response from Germany and the EU to US sanctions against Russian pipeline Nord Stream 2.

During the committee’s meeting on 17 June, the German ministry of economics and energy gave a report on the intensified threats of sanctions.

There was unanimity across the factions that such extraterritorial sanctions were not compatible with international law and cannot be accepted, the government stated after the committee meeting.

Earlier this month, several US senators proposed additional sanctions against the Russian pipeline, after the first sanctions voted in December forced the main pipelayers to withdraw from the project.

Since then, pipelay in the Danish section of the offshore pipeline remained on hold and around 160km remains to be built to finish the project.

“The legislation proposed by the US senators is once again a hostile act towards the US allies. It is unacceptable and attacks the sovereignty of Germany and Europe,“ Dr. Joachim Pfeiffer, economic and energy policy spokesman for the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, told ICIS on 15 June.

“The allegedly unilateral dependence on Russia is not the case. In fact, the opposite applies: Nord Stream 2 will contribute to the diversification of transport routes, thereby increasing liquidity, competition and security of supply for the European energy market,“ Dr. Pfeiffer also told ICIS.

“I strongly condemn the push by some US senators to tighten sanctions against the Nord Stream II gas pipeline,” Alexander Ulrich, the Left Party spokesperson in the economic and energy committee told ICIS on 18 June.

“I call on the German government and the European Commission to make it very clear that they will not accept the US sanctions. Sanctions must be condemned not only in order to protect their own companies and authorities that would be affected, but also to promote an energy policy that is compatible with the EU Commission’s Green Deal.

That would not be the case with the purchase of environmentally harmful US-fracking gas (which is one of Donald Trump’s motivations to prevent Nord Stream 2), Ulrich also said.

The committee will address this issue again in a public hearing with experts on 1 July.

Earlier this week, the developers of Nord Stream 2 asked the Danish Energy Agency to allow them to use anchor pipelayers to finish the project.

The permit granted by Denmark in October assumes the use of pipelayers without anchor, which reduces the risk of contact with old unexploded ordinances at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Russia has two pipelayers that could finish the project, one works with an anchor, the other without.

President Vladimir Putin said the project could be finished by the end of this year or in the first quarter of 2021, at a press conference with German chancellor Angela Merkel on 11 January . “We will certainly be able to complete it on our own,” he also said.

“The project can be implemented despite the US sanctions,” Merkel said at the time. “We will continue to support this project as we did in the past.”

“Blocking the project is pure protectionism,” Russian energy minister Alexander Novak said on 17 June .
“The construction of such large business projects should not be coordinated by third countries.”