Gazprom puts out call for Nord Stream 2 bids in face of EU opposition

Nord Stream 2: Russia’s state energy giant Gazprom continued its defiance to the EU over its plans to build a second gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea to Germany this week  by putting out a call for bids for the $11bn Nord Steam 2 project. On completion, the new pipeline would push Nord Stream’s combined annual  capacity up to 55bcm and boost Germany’s importance as a transit hub for Russian gas into Europe.
The project, which until recently had the backing a consortium of West European companies including EON, BASF /Wintershall, Shell, OMV AG and Engie, is bitterly opposed by several East European states, particularly Poland and Slovakia,  who are worried about Russia’s energy dominance. The future of the pipeline has also become entangled in the stand-off between Russia and the EU over Ukraine, as its route would bypass Russia’s Western neighbour, depriving Kiev of gas-transit fees was well as limiting several East European countries access to gas. Germany is, not surprisingly, considerably more ambivalent. 
In August, Poland ruled that the European companies involved in the consortium were violating antitrust laws by collaborating with Gazprom on Nord Stream 2. The companies involved subsequently pulled out while insisting  that they still supported the project.  Insiders have  told the WSJ  that Switzerland’s  Allseas Group and Italy’s Saipem were likely to bid for  the project, while shallow-water specialists such as France’s Technip and the three Dutch companies Boskalis, Van Oord and Royal IHC were also expected to be involved in some capacity.
EU member states  countries rely on Russia for 45% of their natural-gas imports, a number that Brussels has pledged to lower by looking for fuel from other sources, but the odds appear to shortening on the project progressing. “Some EU members are putting up a serious fight, but I would be surprised if [Nord Stream-2] didn’t go ahead,” said Niall Trimble, managing director of the London-based Energy Contract Co. “Europe is sceptical about relying on more Russian gas, but this project has always been about changing the route of transit away from Ukraine, not upping exports.”

Source: wsj