The ongoing discussion about the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline project is political, European Commission Vice President for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič told a press conference in Brussels.
“Because very often you might hear that Nord Stream 2 is seen as a commercial project. But I respond to this statement that I haven’t seen that many commercial projects which are discussed so often at such high political levels,” Šefčovič told the press conference, also broadcast on EbS, with EU Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete on February 16.
The proposed Gazprom-led Nord Stream 2 pipeline is designed to boost Russian natural gas supplies to Europe, bypassing countries like Ukraine and Poland.
In December, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Hungary and Poland sent a letter to Šefčovič outlining possible negative impacts of extending the Nord Stream pipeline on energy security of the countries involved as well as of the entire region.
Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller said on February 13 that he is confident that Nord Stream 2 is supposed to be built by the end of 2019. “We have no doubt that the Nord Stream 2 project will be implemented strictly in accordance with the schedule, by the end of 2019,” Sputnik quoted Miller as telling reporters on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.
Earlier on February 16, the European Commission presented an energy security package with proposals to strengthen the EU’s resilience to gas supply disruptions.
Šefčovič told the press conference on February 16 that during his participation at the Foreign Affairs Council, there were lots of doubts expressed about Nord Stream 2 and “the underlining importance of the preservation of transit through Ukraine was highlighted, including in the Foreign Affairs Council’s conclusions”.
He said the same doubts were expressed at the European Council where the debate on the issue of expanding the Nord Stream pipeline was very intense. “What I think is very important is the solutions which would be good for all member states and I think that we have the means and ways how to achieve it and that’s what we are offering from the side of the European Commission,” he said.
Gazprom has partnered with Germany’s E.ON, BASF/Wintershall, Austria’s OMV, France’s Engie and Royal Dutch Shell for Nord Stream 2.
Šefčovič told the press conference on February 16 that the Commission still does not have very precise information regarding Nord Stream 2. “We are in contact with the German regulator, we are communicating with our German partners, but we’re not sure that this project has already very precise parameter. What we can assure you is that we will make sure that the European law is fully applied,” Šefčovič said.
The Slovak Commissioner, however, noted that talks on increasing energy security do not exclude Russian gas. “I believe the best way forward would be to use our expertise, the expertise in our member states to really study what would be the best, the most cost-efficient and the most secure, ways how to supply gas to Europe, including the Russian gas to the European Union,” he said.
There will be a second Summit on EU Energy Policy, which will take place on February 23 at the Palais d’Egmont, in Brussels.
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