Nord Stream 2
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline is a gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea, intended to deliver gas supplies from Russia to Germany. The pipeline has been the subject of intense opposition from a number of countries, including Ukraine, the United States and some of Germany’s politicians. With the European Union facing a growing gas crisis during winter 2021/22, pressure is mounting on Germany to greenlight the project, which Russia reports as completed but not yet operational as it awaits approval from Germany.
The original Nord Stream project was completed in November 2011, carrying natural gas supplies from Vyborg in Russia through the Baltic Sea to the German coastal resort of Lubmin. The pipeline carries 55 billion m3 of gas annually, and surpassed the Langeled pipeline between Norway and Great Britain as the world’s largest sub-sea pipeline on completion.
Russia began plans to double annual capacity with the installation of a second pipeline, now known as Nord Stream 2, almost immediately after the first was commissioned. EU sanctions on Russia following the 2014 invasion of Crimea saw the project shelved, but the project was resurrected in June 2015 when an agreement to construct the pipeline was signed by Russian state-owned gas producer Gazprom, alongside Shell, E.ON, OMV and Engie. Permits for construction were finally granted by Germany in 2018.
Russia now claim that the pipeline is completed, and ready to begin transporting natural gas as soon as approvals are granted. Ukraine and Poland have repeatedly opposed the project, while the US has also threatened sanctions if the pipeline becomes a ‘political tool’.
As it stands, Nord Stream 2 is still awaiting German approval to begin the movement of additional gas supplies. Russian troop movements on the Ukrainian border continue to fuel concern around another invasion, with the EU looking to use the Kremlin’s desire to complete Nord Stream 2 as an important opportunity for sanctions if the need arises. In the meantime, Gazprom have warned of continued record gas prices throughout 2022 for Western Europe without the additional capacity that Nord Stream 2 would offer.