Nord Stream 2 companies seek political help against US sanctions threat
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung / Clean Energy Wire
The companies involved in the controversial Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline project, which connects Germany with Russia via the Baltic Sea, are calling for political support against the possibility of US sanctions, write Andreas Mihm and Jonas Jansen in FAZ. Rainer Seele, CEO of Austrian energy group OMV, was quoted as saying that “as a European company, we expect politicians to ensure that Europe as an investment location does not lose its attractiveness". OMV, which is partly owned by the Austrian state, is one of five European investors in Russia’s Gazprom’s pipeline — along with Wintershall, Uniper, Shell and Engie. These companies now face the possibility of being targeted as the US seeks to expand sanctions against the pipeline. "If we invest billions in a project that is carried out in accordance with all European laws and regulations, then we really have to ask ourselves: Do we want to question that due to influence from third countries?" Seele was quoted as saying. This week, Die Welt reported that US State Department officials had stepped up pressure on German and European companies involved in the pipeline project, asking for “one-on-one” video interviews to make clear the consequences of their participation.
Germany has said that the Nord Stream 2 project -- which is also controversial in the EU -- will facilitate its transition away from coal and nuclear power. But the United States says that the pipeline undermines European security by making the bloc more reliant on Russian energy. Washington instead wants Germany to import liquefied natural gas (LNG), particularly from the US. American pressure has faced major resistance from German officials and lawmakers.
The United States military said it was planning to withdraw 12,000 troops from Germany -- a move widely interpreted as resulting from tensions between Berlin and the Trump administration over energy policy and defence spending. On Twitter, US President Donald Trump referenced German energy policy when discussing the move, writing: “Germany pays Russia billions of dollars a year for energy, and we are supposed to protect Germany from Russia. What’s that all about?” Germany’s government said in a statement that it “takes note” of the decision and would coordinate with NATO, the US government and the affected federal states on the matter.