Gas pipeline: network agency does not want to approve Nord Stream 2 – politics

The conflict over the controversial Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline is entering a new round: the responsible Federal Network Agency suspended the operator’s certification for an indefinite period on Tuesday. This is a prerequisite for the line to be allowed to go into operation. The operating company does not meet important conditions for an independent network operation, said the Bonn authority. This gives the political dispute over the tube new nourishment – of all things during the coalition talks in Berlin; the traffic light is divided in its attitude to the project.

At the center are 54 of the total of 1240 kilometers of the pipeline – the part that goes through German territorial waters. The strict German and European rules for the separation of network and operation apply to him: According to this, lines, whether for electricity or gas, should not be under the influence of those who generate the transported goods. German law requires an “independent transport network operator” for this and spells out the conditions for this in fairly concrete terms.

This operator must be more than a letterbox company, it must have its own staff, independent management and a supervisory board. Only then can it be “certified”. The operating company, Nord Stream 2 AG, is currently based in Zug, Switzerland; it is directly owned by the Gazprom group. The Federal Network Agency now only wants to certify the operator “if it is organized in a legal form under German law”.

This means a setback for the commissioning of the pipeline. The operator consortium now not only has to set up the required company in Germany. The construct must also be watertight right from the start, because there is not much time left for the test. The approval process can take a total of four months, two months have passed – there are still two left. Theoretically, the operators could illegally operate the tube. In this case, the authority reserves the right to “initiate administrative offense proceedings and, if necessary, impose fines”.

But even so, the interruption is fueling the dispute over the project. It was the “right step,” said FDP foreign politician Renata Alt, “but it will not be enough.” What is needed is “a political solution that turns Nord Stream 2 into a European project and reduces the risk of dependence on Russia”. The Greens also welcomed the decision. The unbundling of the network and operation of the line should not be circumvented by bogus companies, said the Green MEP Sergey Lagodinsky. The SPD has so far stuck to the project.

Because of the Russian troop deployment in areas near eastern Ukraine, the USA recently reminded the German government that Chancellor Angela Merkel has assured that she will take measures at national and European level if Russia increases its aggression against Ukraine or uses gas as a means of pressure.

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