LAGONISSI, Greece – Moscow hopes to overcome European Commission’s objections to Gazprom’s plans to construct Nord Stream 2 from Russia to Germany and to reinvigorate South Stream project by building a pipeline from Greece to Italy, Russian Ambassador to the EU told New Europe.
“Nord Stream 2, being a purely commercial project from the outset, is driven by a consortium of European energy companies that after what had happened with South Stream and then the Turkish Stream, they opted for a more secure rooting,” Russian Ambassador to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov said on June 23 on the sidelines of a conference south of Athens.
“Looking at it from a purely logical point of view, I fail to understand why Nord Stream 1 was a TEN-E project, meaning a Project of European Common Interest, and Nord Stream 2 should create so many problems,” Chizhov quipped.
“I’ve seen various interpretations like imports of gas from Russia through one single EU country – Germany – at the level of 80%, the figure was referred to – would not contribute to stability. But when 80% of the gas was going through Ukraine that was considered okay. Perhaps some people think that Germany is a less reliable country than Ukraine,” he said, laughing.
Reminding the Ambassador that the EU is concerned about dependence on Russian gas supplies, Chizhov said, “Russia, you know has never failed to deliver even at the height of the Cold War”.
Nord Stream-2 project stipulates construction of two lines of the offshore gas pipeline with a total capacity of 55 billion cubic metres per year from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea. The project’s major shareholders are Russian gas monopoly Gazprom (51%), Germany’s BASF/Wintershall (10%), E.ON (10%), Austria’s OMV (10%), Royal Dutch Shell (10%) and France’s Engie (9%).
However, Russia’s Ambassador to the EU stressed that Nord Stream 2 is not an alternative to South Stream. IGI Poseidon plans to bring Russian gas via Turkey, or possibly Bulgaria, to Greece and onward to Italy. “It’s the Poseidon from Greece to Italy, which logically might become the last stretch of the future South Stream when the project is sort reinvigorated,” Chizhov said.
In February Greece’s DEPA, Italy’s Edison and Gazprom signed a memorandum of understanding regarding the examination of the IGI plan’s possible revival.
Bulgaria had opposed the now-scrapped South Stream project while relations between Turkey and Russia have deteriorated.
“The Bulgarian government is saying they have changed their mind again. Now they are in favour but, of course, we have yet to hear from the European Commission,” Chizhov said.
“You know, the difference from the point of view of the EU acquis communautaire between South Stream and Nord Stream 1 or 2 is that Nord Stream connects a non-EU country, which is Russia, with one EU country, which is Germany and further downstream is the existing German network. Whereas South Stream included a downstream network to be built specifically for South Stream and that stumbled over this [EU] Third [Energy] Package,” he said.
Asked if South Stream and Turkish Stream are dead, Chizhov laughed, pointing out that IGI “Poseidon is the end section. In order for Russian gas to get to Greece something has to be built. We’ll see”.
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