German opposition to Nord Stream 2 grows while  Morawiecki warns of “war”

German energy consumers may end up picking up the cost of a €2.7bn gas pipeline extension required to connect Nord Stream 2 to the rest of Europe, according to government papers leaked to the country’s  Spiegel magazine.
The revelation that Wintershall and Uniper, the German  companies  involved in  the project, are planning to pass some of the costs associated with Nord Stream 2 onto the end users comes at a critical time for the project’s future, as a combination of the German  elections, intensifying EU oppositions and the prospect of new US sanctions against Russia put the  future of the prospect under increasing  scrutiny.
With Chancellor Angela Merkel being forced to concede ground to the right both within her own party and Germany’s broader political spectrum as she strives to hold on to power, more questions are now being raised about Nord Stream 2, and, with Germany also  being the EU’s largest importer of Russian gas, the extra political leverage over Berlin  it might hand to  Russia. 
Fears have also been raised that the new  pipeline would concentrate almost all Russian exports to the EU into one route, making it easier for Moscow to cut off Eastern Europe or bypass their transit networks. Last week, a cross-party group of seven German politicians wrote an open letter to  Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung  calling on the government in Berlin to clarify its position on the future of the project. “Real cooperation cannot mean that Germans and Russians agree anything over the heads of our EU partners, so the EU is split, and trust is lost,” the letter said. 
“Russia sees energy and the economy as a political weapon,” said MEP  Elmar Brok and one of the signatories to the letter. “Energy has always been a political weapon, as Putin himself has said, so this separation of politics and economics is extremely dangerous,” he added.
“We hope that there will again be a broad discussion in Germany and in other European countries.” 
Publication of the letter coincided with Nord Stream’s CFO Paul Corcoran predicting  that the company expected to receive permission to build Nord Stream 2 in the exclusive economic zone of Germany within a few weeks and it also expected to begin the process of attracting additional financing in the next couple of months;  while Russia’s energy giant Gazprom and five financial investor –  Engie, Shell, OMV as well as Uniper and Wintershall – are  already underwriting 30% of Nord Stream 2,  the remainder  of its costs need to be covered by  project financing. “We are starting the process in next couple of months and that will take up to a year,” he said.
Despite his confidence, Corcoran and his colleagues face ever- stiffer opposition  from Brussels and its EU member states  particularly from  Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic countries  due to fears that  itwill increase Europe’s dependence on Russian gas and cut Ukraine off from gas transit fees.
Last month,  Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz 
 Morawiecki called for the US to impose sanctions on the planned pipeline and on Friday went as far as to suggest  that its construction could lead to war with Russia. “Once Nord Stream 2 is built Putin can do with Ukraine whatever he wants,” he told reporters. “And then we  potentially  have his army on the eastern border of the EU. ” Once Ukraine’s role  as a transit was made obsolete, Russia would  be able to aggravate the conflict for any reason and by any means, and even decide to conduct direct military actions, he warned.
But with Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo the latest institution to confirm that it is ready to finance the project,  it seems that the only factor likely to curb  commercial enthusiasm for the project would be the imposition of penalties by Washington on Western companies doing business with Russian organisations and  oligarchs on its sanctions blacklist.
In July 2017, the US House of Representatives passed a bill tightening existing sanctions against Russian companies and individuals, which stated that Russia was using energy exports to coerce its neighbors and which took specific aim at Nord Stream 2. According to the bill’s authors, the Gazprom-led project has “detrimental impacts on the EU’s energy security.
After confirming that Intesa was interested in financing  the projects, the head of its Russian business Antonio Fallico said that its financial decision depended on clarification on the extent and implications of Western sanctions against Moscow, but added that EU economy would take a hit if the project – that will  double the existing Nord Stream pipeline’s current annual capacity of 55 billion cubic meters – stalled.

Source: spiegel