Some might find it indelicate to critically underline US foreign policy moves a few hours after the day America remembered the 20 years since 9/11 and the nearly 3,000 deaths of the bloodiest attack ever suffered on its soil. The alternative, however, would risk appearing as a hairy hypocrisy that dangerously borders on political subjection, a passive acceptance of the agreement to exclude put in place almost tacitly. Because the news, net of the positioning angle from which it is observed. remains of those to be marked in red on the calendar.
On 10 September, in fact, Gazprom has announced that the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline has been completed: In a morning operational meeting of the company, the chairman of the board, Alexey Miller, announced that at 8:45 am Moscow time, the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline was fully completed., the communiqué read in a solemn tone. And a little Soviet. At this point, the Russian energy giant expects to commission the pipeline by the end of the year. According to Gazprom’s calculations, 5.6 billion cubic meters of gas can be supplied through the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as early as 2021. Bloomberg, citing sources close to the parties, reported that Gazprom plans to start supplying gas through the first string of Nord Stream 2 as early as October 1 and through both by December 1.
As the infographic shows,
Nord Stream 2 numbers, winners and losers
it is a huge infrastructure and of critical strategic importance: Nord Stream 2 includes two pipeline lines with a total capacity of 55 billion cubic meters per year from the Russian coast across the Baltic Sea to Germany. In short, a blessing. If only for what this graph shows:
Trend in European natural gas futures
the inflation trend, of course transient, combined with the Russian decision to put the EU on the grill, limiting the flows of the alternative pipeline arriving at Mallnow’s German hub, in fact, has caused the cost of European gas (Dutch) to explode, so much so that today the electricity bill of a Spanish citizen is + 40% on an annual basis. And Italy is itself preparing for a first autumn bloodletting.
Hence, net of the suspected media silence with respect to an infrastructure as deadly (both for citizens and for European companies) as unwelcome to the Americans (whose threats of sanctions pushed the Swiss Allseas to abandon the works in 2019, with consequent block until December 2020), the envoy of the US State Department for energy matters, Amos Hochstein, immediately felt the need to raise the bar of tone. Europe is not doing enough to prepare for a potential gas crisis this winter, especially in light of the fact that US LNG supplies cannot be increased any further., his thesis.
At least bizarre, in fact. Both because the discrepancy in the numbers of European dependence between Russian and American gas in the previous infographic is clear, and because it appears suspicious warn against a possible gas crunch on the day the completion of a pipeline is announced which, this year alone, could already guarantee 5.6 billion cubic meters. But pay attention to a couple of details. First, to launch his not-too-veiled threat disguised as an interested warning, Hochstein did not choose a random location, other than a random day: it was in fact in Poland, the historically most anti-Russian European country of all.. Second, in stressing that European gas reserves today are well below the five-year average, the US correspondent also remarked that Russia is just now emerging from a period of inexplicable low supply. As if to say, you are tying your hands and feet to Vladimir Putin’s tantrums.
And this graph
US natural gas futures trend
shows what Hochstein appears to have implicitly gone to sell to the public friend of Poland, almost as if he were a high-ranking salesman: despite the surge in recent weeks ($ 5 per mBtu, the highest since 2014), thanks to the drilling activity linked to shale gas and internal sources, the price of US LNG still travels at about a quarter of the price paid by Europeans. As if to say, net of transport costs and criticalities, it is still better for you to close a deal with an ally, rather than totally depending on our (and your) enemy. I bottlenecks on the supply chain at the State Department are not yet on the list of global criticalities, apparently.
All this is based on the agreement reached last July between Angela Merkel and Joe Biden, who accepted the completion of Nord Stream 2 without the imposition of sanctions but on two conditions. First, support Ukraine, which risks losing $ 3 billion a year in gas transit taxes from Russia. Second, to link the operation to a so-called clause kill switch, under which Berlin would suspend gas flows if Russia takes aggressive steps towards its Western neighbors or allies.
In short, in case another hacker attack against sensitive EU infrastructures should happen by chance or issues related to Ukraine, Belarus or the Navalny case should know a worsening, Washington could remind Germany of its commitment. Not surprisingly, also yesterday, Moscow sent an all too clear signal to the US, summoning Ambassador John Sullivan to protest against interference in the Duma vote on September 19.
To say the least symbolic as an excuse for an official recall from the Kremlin. But that the climate in this regard is terribly tense in Germany, moreover on the eve of the legislative vote that could close almost two decades of CDU foreign policy, this graph shows:
Countervalues of the three main recipients of German exports
the US has in fact consolidated its role as the main market for German exports, reaching 113.5 billion euros in goods and services in the past 12 months against the 104 of Beijing. In short, a blow to the circle and one to the barrel. But Hochstein’s words, on the day of Gazprom’s announcement, seem to go further. And open real crisis scenarios, when the cold is just a few weeks away. While energy costs are already eroding corporate margins.