US Uses Gas as Political Weapon: NS2
A spokesman for the Russian-backed 55bn m³/yr Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project told NGW June 16 that over the last few weeks, the company was seeing the line becoming more and more a political issue, owing to US "fear-mongering" and the non-commercial promotion of its own gas over that of Russia.
He was speaking the day after the US Senate voted almost unanimously in favour of a bill to impose more sanctions on Russia, a major live issue being Nord Stream 2: lending close to a €1bn each to the €9.5bn project are Anglo-Dutch Shell, German BASF and Uniper, Austrian OMV and French Engie.
The view of its partners in the project, which consists of two 27.5bn m³/yr pipes, is that it is a commercial, not a political project. But opponents, mainly gas companies in east Europe, see it as a political project designed to strengthen Gazprom's grip on Europe.
Engie CEO Isabelle Kocher said the bill was a way for the US “to try to favour its own gas” in Europe. She told reporters in Paris that she did not think the US can stop this project, Bloomberg reported Friday 16.
Another partner, Shell, did not comment on the bill's likely effect but told NGW that it had so far seen no reason to change course. German chancellor Angela Merkel also supports the pipeline, reportedly saying that a few legal details needed to be determined regarding the regulation of it; but that the EC did not need a mandate to negotiate them, as it requested a week ago.
Two US cargoes of LNG arrived in northern Europe last week – one to The Netherlands and one to Poland. Since Sabine Pass started up in February 2016, the only US LNG deliveries to the European Union have gone south, to countries with high prices owing to poor connections to liquid hubs, such as Portugal and Spain. Both Russia and Norway have been delivering gas at record volumes to northern and central Europe over the last few years and these two were the first to arrive there.
The NS2 spokesman said it did not comment on matters going through the legislative process – the house of representatives has yet to vote on the bill – but quoted US energy secretary Rick Perry saying June 9 that “energy policy is not just a vital element of US economic policy, but also a vital element of US foreign policy. …One of the most important actions we can take is to use our massive shale gas resources to begin shipping LNG overseas. … We will become a dominant energy force, using our research, development, and delivery capabilities."
The NS 2 spokesman commented in response to this: “Whether US companies want to deliver LNG or Poland wants to become a hub or build the Baltic Pipe – they should do so because competition is to the benefit of the European customers. But it should be a fair competition, not based on outdated fear-mongering."