Germany suspends licensing process for Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline


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The works of the gigantic gas pipeline Nord Stream 2, owned by the Russian Gazprom and with an investment of around $ 2.5 billion, in which several European companies also participate, ended in September. Since then, the gigantic pipes that run 1,224 kilometers from the bottom of the Baltic Sea to the shores of northern Germany they are still waiting for the necessary license to operate. But the German regulator Federal Network Agency has suspended the certification process, necessary for the project to obtain the license, claiming that the operator is not legally incorporated under German law, but is based in Zug, Switzerland, and is subject to another. legislation.

The decision represents a severe setback for the Russian strategy, which bases its influence on Europe on the energy dependence on Russian resources.

But it is also a hard blow for European consumers, in a context of rising natural gas prices on the threshold of a harsh winter. “After an exhaustive analysis of the documentation, it is concluded that it would only be possible to certify the operator if it was instituted under German law,” the statement explains. The company “has decided not to transform its current legal composition, but to find a subsidiary under German law that will manage only the German part of the gas pipeline”, he adds, “until the main assets and human resources have been transferred to the subsidiary” will not be completed verification of information.

Germany thus resists giving in to pressure from the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, which keeps gas supply to Europe to the minimum required by the contracts, thus creating a situation of shortages and rising prices, and which had suggested in early November that Russia could rapidly increase natural gas reserves in the EU as soon as German regulators allowed the Nord Stream 2 flow to start operating. The United States, for its part, has been firmly opposed to the construction of the gas pipeline for years and reached an agreement with Germany in July, although it created the figure as the US Special Envoy for Nord Stram 2, a kind of ambassador with the mission of closely observing the development of the project. The appointee was Amos Hochstein, a staunch opponent of the pipeline who fears increased European dependence on Russia. The announcement of the Federal Agency of Networks supposes the paralysis surely during all the winter, since from now on the process will have to fulfill with strict deadlines. Once Gazprom has met the requirement to reactivate the process, the law stipulates a four-month period to draw up a decision. That decision should then be sent to the European Commission for comment.

Lawsuit from a German NGO

At the moment, it is not clear why the Federal Network Agency had not informed the company Gazprom Right from the start, when submitting the application, you needed a German legal form submitted by a German operator. And in any case, this is not the only obstacle that the project has yet to overcome. The High Administrative Court of Greifswald is studying a lawsuit by the German non-governmental organization Deutsche Umwelthilfe (Ref .: 5k588 / 20OVG) directed against the Stralsund Mining Authority, which approved the construction and operation of the gas pipeline in early 2018, alleging environmental damage and climate protection. The environmental organization refers to new findings that describe natural gas as harmful to the climate, due to methane emissions during its extraction and transport. If judges admit this lawsuit and pipeline builders had to account for all emissions from natural gas production, permits for other pipeline projects would also have to be renewed.

The construction and commissioning of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is highly controversial for geopolitical reasons, because Russia, which is acting aggressively against Ukraine, is strategically and economically weakening what is so far the most important transit country. At the moment, in addition, there is a great diplomatic tension between Germany and the EU on the one hand and Russia on the other, due to the concentration of illegal immigrants on the border between Poland and Belarus, which European governments consider promoted by Putin. That’s why critics of the pipeline welcome the decision. The Federal Network Agency is “consistently implementing German and European law”, defended Sergey Lagodinsky, MEP for the Greens. ‘The principle of separation between network operation and sales must remain effective. Attempts to circumvent this using outsourced companies do not do justice to this principle. ‘

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