New old problems of Nord Stream-2. The gas war is not over

Statements have been made in Ukraine about the intention to appeal the certification of the Russian Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline , which may take place soon. What does this really mean?

Certification for any technical system, including pipelines, is a very important step. The certificate of conformity of the constructed pipeline to requirements of the standard is provided by the specialized company called to control all stages of construction, in our case – “Nord Stream-2”. Such a company was initially selected by the Norwegian DNV GL, which in early 2021 refused to certify the pipeline due to US sanctions against it.

The certificate’s departure from the project occurred when the pipeline was being built on a site in Denmark’s exclusive maritime economic zone in the Baltic. Inspection and certification of the gas pipeline by DNV GL is mandatory at all sections of SP-2, including the Danish one. This is clearly stated in the permit of the Danish Energy Agency issued to the project operator Nord Stream 2 AG on October 30, 2019. And here for the Kremlin there is a double problem: not only that the certifier left the project, so it is necessary to prove that the permission of DEA for carrying out works in this sector of the Baltic Sea under technical supervision of DNV GL is not broken. Moreover, in 2020, the DEA stressed that the terms of the permit from October 30, 2019 remain in force. And without certification of each of the two threads of the pipeline, it can not be put into operation.

As for these violations (and they are), the actions of Ukraine and Poland in counteracting Nord Stream-2 should be directed. After all, the Danish construction permit for SP-2 clearly states that only DNV GL should be certified. And it is impossible to issue a certificate for 95% of the pipeline and not provide it for the other 5%.

There is also a significant problem for Gazprom in the issue of certification of the Nord Stream-2 operator, Nord Stream-2 AG, registered in Switzerland. 100% of shares of this company belong to Gazprom

At the same time, there is no policy here – only standard technical requirements. And for the system working under ultrahigh pressure, it should be not just papers which in a cunning way can be issued on the German-Russian mezhdusoboychik. In the absence of a certificate, the system cannot be put into operation. I’m not sure that it will even be possible to fill the pipe with gas. And the German regulator, despite statements from the official side that the pipeline will be launched in any case, will not violate the technical requirements.

In this situation, of course, can invite someone else – a French or Chinese certifier, who will write everything “as it should be.” But then a situation of inconsistency automatically arises, which it is a sin not to take advantage of third parties – Ukraine and Poland. The European Commission should also pay attention to this. In other words, the war with Putin’s pipeline is not over.

There is also a significant problem for Gazprom in the issue of certification of the Nord Stream-2 operator, Nord Stream 2 AG, registered in Switzerland. 100% of the shares of this company belong to Gazprom. Polish companies PGNiG SA and its subsidiary PGNiG Supply & Trading have already submitted a request to the German regulator BundesNetzAgentur to participate in the certification procedure in order to prevent Gazprom’s daughter from being exempted from the EU gas directive.

The threat of gas shortages in the EU market in winter has already been created. And Russia continues to aggravate the situation by limiting the supply of gas to the European market and minimizing its injection into underground storage facilities in Europe

The ambiguity of the situation is well understood in Russia. They are preparing in advance for the probable scenario of counteracting the certification of the pipeline and the operator, as well as the commissioning of the pipeline. By reducing the supply of natural gas, Gazprom has already provoked record prices for it in the EU in early August – more than $ 500. And this is the purposeful work of Gazprom, which provides 41% of EU gas imports. When the issue of certification and commissioning of PP-2 arises closer to winter, Gazprom will issue an ultimatum – more gas for the EU in exchange for removing all obstacles. Preliminary preparations for an open act of blackmail are already under way. The Kremlin believes that they will succeed. The threat of gas shortages in the EU market in winter has already been created. And Russia continues to aggravate the situation,

Therefore, from our side it is quite logical to use the “certification argument” against “Nord Stream-2”. And yet – we must, without delay to the new brooms, involve an early warning mechanism of the crisis in the European gas market, which contains an association agreement with the EU. 

Mykhailo Honchar, President of the Center for Global Studies “Strategy XXI”

(C)UNIAN 2021

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