Nord Stream 2: The Transatlantic Discord Factor

Nord Stream 2 is the most controversial gas project in Europe. This second gas pipeline project linking Russia to Europe was originally scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019. But the almost completed project (96%) suffers from the American financial and criminal sanctions that weigh on the project’s actors. Resulting from the last American defense budget voted on Friday, January 8, these measures target all companies that offer “testing, inspection or certification services necessary or essential to the completion or operation of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline”.

As a result, the Norwegian DNV GL in charge of classification and certification has withdrawn from the project. A prolonged withdrawal as long as the sanctions remain in force and diplomatic relations do not change.

Nord Stream 2: a political instrument

Since its inception, the Nord Stream 2 project has been subject to strong criticism, particularly within the EU. Several EU countries accuse Russia of seeking to increase its gas hold on the continent.

Poland, in particular, recalls the great advantage of this project for Russia in its negotiations with the EU. The Ukrainians see the pipeline as a political retaliation. Indeed, Russian gas usually transits through the country, but this is not the case with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

The United States also against the project

Outside the EU, the United States is officially opposed to this in order to avoid European dependence on Russian gas and to counter the country’s influence on the continent.

Russian-American adversity on the European gas market

The advent of American shale gas is increasing competition between Russia and the United States for European gas supplies. First, on December 20, 2019, Washington passes new sanctions under the EEPSA (European Energy Security Protection Act). Then, the suspension of Nord Stream 2 was instrumentalized by the country on the occasion of the poisoning of Alexei Navalny in August 2020.

For Moscow, it is the maintenance of its gas rent in Europe that is at stake. Indeed, Russia is the leading supplier of gas to Germany. It is also a reliable long-term supplier in the face of depleting Dutch and Norwegian reserves in Europe.

France against external interventions in EU policy

But American interference in European affairs seems to be disturbing, especially in France. In July 2020, the Senate adopted a “proposal to preserve the EU’s sovereignty in the energy field”. This EU motion for resolution urges the United States, among other things, to repeal the 2019 PEESA and a similar bill introduced on June 4, 2020.

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