Junker and Putin set to thrash out future of Nord Stream 2 at SPIEF

The future of the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline proposed between Russia and Germany  is expected to be discussed by EC President Jean-Claude Juncker and Russia’s Vladimir Putin when they meet at the SPIEF conference in St Petersburg this week. The two leaders are likely to discuss the proposed pipeline which would run under the  Baltic Sea, bypass Ukraine and double the amount of gas Russia supplies to Europe. While a consortium of West European companies including EON, BASF /Wintershall, Shell, OMV AG and  Engie  (as well as Gazprom) is behind the project, it is bitterly opposed by several East European states including Poland and Slovakia. Italy has also joined the objectors after Brussels blocked proposals for a pipeline running into southern Europe via Bulgaria two years ago, the so-called South Stream project. 
Since the deal to construct the first Nord Stream pipeline was signed in 2005, the European Commission has introduced a new set of rules to promote competition, which bar providers from controlling the pipelines used to transport their gas. These rules effectively scuppered South Stream and could also kill off Nord Stream 2 if applied to to the letter. Russia and Germany are arguing that those rules shouldn’t apply to the offshore part of the new 1,200km long pipeline, which would cross the exclusive economic zones of four member states and Russia before reaching land in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s constituency of Greifswald on Germany’s Baltic coast.
The European Commission has yet to decide on its position.
In Germany, there is growing concern among opponents of the pipeline that the political momentum behind the project is becoming too great for it to be stopped, despite the fact that EU sanctions against Russia are still in place over the annexation of Crimea.“The Nord Stream 2 project is humming away quietly below the radar, willed on by the German government,” Greens lawmaker Annalena Baerbock said in an interview. “I fear that at some point it may be too late to block it.”

Source: Bloomberg