Europe to say 'yes' to Nord Stream 2

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will likely approve the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project: the decision could be announced after Germany’s general elections in September.

"EU officials said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is considering to move forward on Nord Stream 2 and was “highly likely” to give the project the go-ahead in the coming months," EurActiv reported.

Juncker has shared some of the eastern member states’ concerns in the past, saying Nord Stream 2 would strengthen Gazprom’s “dominant” position in Europe.

Nord Stream 2 is a joint venture of Russia’s Gazprom with France's Engie, Austria’s OMV AG, Royal Dutch Shell, Germany's Uniper and Wintershall. It is estimated to bring an estimated 55 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas to Germany across the Baltic Sea, while bypassing Ukraine. The preliminary investment budget is assessed at around 8 billion euro. The project's developer is the Nord Stream 2 AG company.

A senior analyst of 'Uralsib Capital', Alexei Kokin, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, the EU has started leaning toward the Nord Stream-2 as a route for additional supplies of Russian gas because it is the easiest to implement. "This project should not cause any major regulatory obstacles in the EU, because it passes mainly through a neutral territory and represents a pipeline link between Russia and Germany that duplicates the route of the Nord Stream 1," he recalled.

It is also important that most of the Nord Stream-2 pipeline will be located outside the European Union. "The only issue that could arise is the status of above-ground pipes that will deliver gas to consumers already after it has been received in Germany," Alexei Kokin noted.

"The opposition to the project was purely political, in particular, from Poland. Juncker said last year that the project is complicated, but only because the objections to it are of political nature. At present, the antimonopoly dispute against Gazprom is coming to an end, and a certain solution can be found. Gazprom's refusal of monopolistic practice in Eastern Europe will make it possible to make political objections of the opponents of the Nord Stream 2 less meaningful," the economist said.

The support from the part of Gazprom's European partners will help as well. "The process will be accelerated thanks to the support of German, French and Austrian partners of Gazprom, in particular Shell. All of them are interested in building a gas pipeline as soon as possible. Therefore, they may start to build the Nord Stream 2 by the end of this year," Alexei Kokin concluded.

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