‘Nord Stream 2’ Controversy: EU Tables New Rules for Offshore Gas Connections

Written by | Friday, November 10th, 2017

The European Union has come up with an idea to extend its natural-gas regulations to offshore pipelines as part of its efforts to disturb the energy link between Russia and Germany that is raising concerns within the bloc. The European Commission presented an amendment to energy rules after it had tried for months to intervene in the controversial Nord Stream 2 project, which would enable Russian state-run energy giant Gazprom to double its shipments of natural gas via Germany to Europe. This would also enable the Kremlin to avoid transit via Ukraine without losing its dominant market position in the EU, which stood at 42% in 2016.

More regulation of the pipeline is generally supported in the European Parliament but it is faced with opposition from some EU member states, most notably Germany. The Commissions wants to enact the amendment by the end of next year, before Nord Stream 2 starts its operations. Other EU members, led by Poland and supported by the United States, are against the project, arguing that it brings in security risks by undermining the EU’s efforts to diversify its energy portfolio and to support Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.

Such an important pipeline cannot be built in a legal void or cannot be built just according to Russian law,” European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic said. The EU proposal fills in regulatory shortcomings by clarifying the framework that applies to all gas pipelines to and from third parties, Mr. Sefcovic added. Nord Stream 2 is a wholly owned subsidiary of Gazprom that is also backed by European energy companies. A Swiss firm involved in the projects says that it is operating in full compliance with EU legislation and doesn’t need an additional pact to realize the project. “This legislative proposal seems to be a far-reaching change to the scope of application of the EU’s energy laws,” said Sebastian Sass, Nord Stream 2’s representative to the EU.


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