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10 Jan 2022, 13:26
Edgar Meza

Nord Stream 2 must run to avoid “billion-euro ruin” in the Baltic – German climate committee head

WirtschaftsWoche

As energy prices in Germany continue to rise, the chairman of the German Bundestag’s climate committee, Klaus Ernst, is pushing for the controversial Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to begin operation, stressing that it would be economically beneficial for Europe. "Wanting a billion-euro ruin in the Baltic Sea, although it represents an important infrastructure project for us, is unimaginable," Ernst told to financial weekly WirtschaftsWoche. Ernst has in the past often spoken out in support of the pipeline. He is a member of the opposition Left Party, which partly has its roots in former East Germany's ruling communist party and often stands for Russia-friendly policy. Ernst said he hoped that the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA), which is reviewing the pipeline project, “does not allow itself to be politicised in such a way that it further prevents certification”. 

Ernst said that "in view of the empty natural gas storage facilities, Nord Stream 2 is definitely a way of increasing the supply and filling up the natural gas storage facilities quickly." This could counteract high energy prices, especially for small and medium-sized incomes, he added. However, analysts have said in recent weeks that existing pipelines to transport gas from Russia to Europe via Ukraine or Poland have not nearly been used to available capacity, with flows reversing at times. The general need for additional capacity in the form of Nord Stream 2 has long been called into question, as Europe can be supplied well via existing infrastructure.

Grid agency head Jochen Homann has said certification for the project in the first half of 2022 is unlikely, wrote WirtschaftsWoche. The Swiss-based Nord Stream 2 AG operator must first establish a subsidiary in Germany to gain certification. While opponents are critical of Nord Stream 2 on environmental, geopolitical, and security grounds, proponents argue that it is a commercial investment that is vital to Europe's supply security. Chancellor Olaf Scholz has described the pipeline as a “private-sector project”, but his Green Party coalition partners are more critical.

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