Germany's Merkel Defends Russian Gas Pipeline Plan | Business News

Germany’s Merkel Defends Russian Gas Pipeline Plan

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

EU leaders say Russia-Germany gas line could break EU rules.

BRUSSELS – European Union leaders raised objections on Friday to a massive new pipeline project that would pump natural gas directly from Russia to Germany, claiming that the scheme would break EU laws. The state-controlled Russian gas giant Gazprom plans to double the capacity of the Nord Stream gas pipeline that runs along the bottom of the Baltic sea between the town of Vyborg in the Russian Federation and Greifswald in Germany. Gazprom hopes to add some 1,200 km of pipeline along the existing piping that runs through Danish waters south of Bornholm, and it therefore needs Denmark’s permission, reports Berlingske.

The pipeline bypasses both Ukraine and Slovakia, which are traditional transit countries for supplies pumped by Russian energy giant Gazprom, depriving them of substantial transit fees. “Nord Stream does not help diversification, nor would it reduce our energy dependence,” European Council President Donald Tusk said, after chairing the meeting. “All projects have to comply with all EU laws. According to them, Russia would transport less gas via the existing pipelines in Ukraine, which also lead to central Europe, and Ukraine would lose up to 15 billion dollars annually on transit revenues. The central and eastern European countries together with Italy are prepared to raise the issue at the EU summit that is taking place today and tomorrow, where the current EU sanctions against Russia look set to be extended until the summer of 2016.

The Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, said extending the sanctions while expanding Nord Stream is a hypocrisy and also contrary to the intention of creating strong European energy union. The project has particularly angered Italian Premier Matteo Renzi, a year after Russia spiked the multibillion dollar South Stream project for southern Europe amid spiraling tensions over Ukraine. “I think it’s incredible to stop South Stream just one year ago and then accept today the Nord Stream,” he told reporters, noting that Nord Stream 2 was one of a few issues on which he did not see eye-to-eye with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

It will include two new pipelines that will deliver an additional 55 billion cubic meters to the existing Nord Stream pipeline which bypasses Ukraine. Irina Vasilyeva from Nord Stream’s communications department has confirmed to Berlingske the company is in the process of conducting its own environmental and technical analysis of the expansion. “The application for a permit together with the environmental study will be sent to the relevant authorities for a public hearing,” Vasilyeva wrote to Berlingske.

Merkel, for her part, denied that politics were playing a role in her government’s decision to develop the project or that Germany was only considering national interests by doing this deal with Russia.

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