Robert Harneis – TDO- (FRANCE)- Despite all the sound and fury from President Trump and his sanctions people, the Nord Stream 2 Baltic gas pipeline is on schedule.  The pipelaying on the seabed started on schedule according to its operator, with European investors still committed to the project. If Denmark insists on withholding consent for the present route, there are plans for an alternative route for the same cost.

As predicted on these pages some time ago, Chancellor Merkel may give up trade with Iran but not Germany’s vital gas supply. This is not surprising when you consider that Germany is committed to ending the use of nuclear energy in the foreseeable future. It is also significant to remember that it was Angela Merkel who originally gave Putin the go-ahead for Nord Stream 1 and not as is constantly alleged her predecessor Gerhard Schroeder.

In July, Washington repeated a warning to Western firms invested in the pipeline that they were at risk of sanctions, saying Moscow was using the project to divide Europe.

Also Berlin and Moscow have been at odds since Russia annexed Crimea four years ago, but they have a common interest in the Nord Stream 2 project. The pipeline will allow Russia to bypass Ukraine, where its gas giant Gazprom has faced past disruptions.

Disputes between Gazprom and Ukraine, a key Russian gas export route, over gas prices and transit fees have resulted in a number of supply stoppages to Europe in the past decade.

“The project is progressing according to schedule,” Nord Stream 2 AG, the Swiss-based project’s operating company, told Reuters in an emailed statement. Gas is due to start flowing at the end of 2019 to bypass routes through Ukraine.

Nord Stream 2 AG, which will double the existing Nord Stream 1 capacity from a current 55 billion cubic meters of gas a year, is owned by Gazprom, which is taking on half of the planned costs of 9.5 billion euros.

The rest is divided between five European energy companies - Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall, Anglo- Dutch group Royal Dutch Shell, France’s Engie and Austria’s OMV

By the end of June, 4.8 billion euros had already been invested in the 1,200-kilometre (746 miles) pipeline project, and pipelaying in the Baltic Sea started in July.

Gazprom and its European partners say the Nord Stream 2 project is aimed at ensuring energy security in the region as gas production falls in Europe and as Gazprom remains in conflict with Ukraine. The Dutch Gas fields are coming to the end of their useful life and the North Sea gas fields are also past their peak.

As a concession Russia has agreed to continue sending gas through Ukraine after Nord Stream 2 starts pumping, as long as it is economically sound to do so, whatever that really means. The EU, NATO and the United States, who organized the coup that put the present violently anti-Russian President Poroshenko into office are worried about the loss of transit fees making the economic situation in Ukraine even worse than it is already.

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