Eustream's Topolanek: Europe Loses with Nord Stream II
Former Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek says that the signing of a memorandum of understanding towards building a second line of the natural gas pipeline Nord Stream is another threat that Europe now has to deal with, something which could potentially scuttle the North-South Gas Corridor project, which would connect European gas supply sources from the Baltic, Adriatic, and Black Seas to the rest of Europe.
With the underlying goal to promote a competing gas infrastructure project called “Eastring, ” Mr. Topolanek, who sits on the board of the Slovak transmission system operator Eustream, the company sponsoring that project, made his provocative remarks at the annual Polish Economic Forum in Krynica.
Recalling his role as President of the European Council that tackled the gas shut-off through Ukraine in 2009, he said that for Central and South-east Europe the North-South Gas Corridor must be, “fully physical, geopolitical and economic alternative and potential substitute to Russian supply, to Russian sources of gas.
“In the whole eastern sphere, from Poland to Bulgaria and Greece to Turkey, it is necessary to decrease our energy dependence. This must be said very clearly.”
The North-South Gas Corridor, he said, must have a mutual general agreement among European countries as a European project of common interest – any other approach would make it impossible to realize such a project that needs both financial and political support.
He opined, “The main objective to fulfill are the basic goals of the European Energy Union.”
However, because the North-South Corridor is only on paper, Mr. Topolanek said that it is in jeopardy because of the MOU recently signed between Gazprom and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Germany's E.On SE and Austria's OMV AG to build a second line of the Nord Stream pipeline, doubling its 55 bcm/year capacity.
According to him, this means that European money and funds should not go towards small interconnector projects that served singular, national interests of member states, although cross border interconnectors may provide the first taste of diversification for some countries. He said he believes such funds should only go towards multinational projects.
“The North-South Corridor must be able to transport big volumes of gas in both directions, via reverse flow, to increase energy security,” he said.
Mr. Topolanek continued, “If we accept the enlargement of Nord Stream as the best solution we will be losers in this geopolitical game.”
Harking back to the 2009 gas crisis, he added that he is afraid Europe may be on course to repeat the same mistake repeatedly.
The Eastring project, he offered, which involves refurbishment and development of existing gas infrastructure, is a potential solution to the problem.