Today’s a big day for Russian gas pipeline news. Reuters:
Russian gas giant Gazprom has agreed to build a new pipeline to Germany under the Baltic Sea with a trio of Western energy companies, bringing Europe closer into Moscow’s energy orbit.
The Russian gas company is trying to find new ways to deliver gas to Europe bypassing conflict-stricken Ukraine.
“Since the commissioning of Nord Stream pipeline, Gazprom has been investigating potential extension of this export route. Now we are going to proceed with the implementation of this project together with our partners,” Gazprom Chief Executive Alexei Miller said in a statement.
Gazprom’s partners in the Nord Stream pipeline, a major gas supply artery feeding into western Europe, are Anglo-Dutch Shell , Germany’s E.ON and Austria’s OMV.
Nord Stream currently has a capacity of 55 billion cubic meters per year, and this expansion could double that capacity. One of the German energy companies participating in the project defended the move:
E.ON, Germany’s biggest utility, said expanding Nord Stream was the most efficient and cheapest method of ensuring European energy security, pointing out that diversifying supply routes is was important as finding new suppliers.
European leaders have talked a good game about the need to find alternatives to Russian gas, but we’ll believe it when we see it. Russia is the biggest supplier of gas to Europe, pumping in about a third off all the gas the EU uses. Europe hasn’t found a promised viable alternative to Russian gas, and it remains vulnerable to Moscow’s pull even as it looks to punish Putin’s aggression in Ukraine: there is only so far Europe can go to isolating Putin without threatening its energy lifeline.