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News // Politics

Controversial Russian gas pipeline makes Czech progress

12 March 2018 , 10:24Chris JohnstoneNeftegaz.RU602

Prague, 12 March - Neftegaz. RU. One of the most controversial pieces of energy infrastructure in Europe, a new gas pipeline linking Russia and Germany, appears to be making progress in the Czech Republic. Prague has been in an awkward diplomatic spot over the proposed pipeline which is supported by Germany but vigorously opposed by Poland, Slovakia, and Baltic States.

 

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline has been a diplomatic hot potato for the Czech Republic. It has put Prague in the middle between its biggest trading partner, investor, and the EU’s main motor Germany, and some of its traditional regional friends and allies.

 

Some in the Czech energy sector are less cautious about hiding their support for Nord Stream 2. At a recent Prague energy conference, the chairman of the Czech energy regulator, Vladimír Outrata, came out fully in support of the new pipeline project.

 

Outrata’s argument is that the new Russian pipeline can massively expand the amount of gas being shipped across Czech territory, possibly around 40 billion cubic metres a year much of it heading towards Italy. That’s more than the amount of natural gas currently being shipped through the country annually to an onward destination.

 

Such sizable shipments could massively increasing local earnings from the transport charges for such business and help further establish the Czech Republic as a strategic gas transport country and hub. And he hopes that the hitherto Czech hesitance in supporting Nord Stream 2 might evaporate soon with a more enthusiastic official posture bringing rewards diplomatic and economic rewards. Czechs, he argues should be supporting Czech interests not Polish.

 

There are others in Czech government circles who argue that the whole pipeline argument has been exaggerated. According to such arguments one more pipeline, whether it be Nord Stream 2 or another, adds up to diversification of supply routes, something that Europe is supposed to be encouraging.

 

They add that gas particles don’t need passports and should be allowed to travel freely. Only around 5 % of current Czech gas supplies are shipped through gas pipelines through Ukraine and Slovakia. And they point out that alternative sourcing gas supplies, such as the LNG from the U.S. which Poland is looking to import, will be more expensive.

 

Jakub Janda is a member of the Prague-based European Values argues that there are basic concerns about the new pipeline: «I think there are 2 major concerns about North Stream 2. Basically, №1 is that Nord Stream 2 will increase mainly German dependency on Russian energy. This is concern № 1, which actually does go against the principles which are now the official policies of the European Energy Union. The 2nd concern, which has been articulated for example by some of the Balkan intelligence agencies, is that North Stream 2 can actually provide means for strategic corruption.»

 

Janda highlights existing top political links between former German chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder and Russian Gazprom and suggests that reinforced links could compromise Berlin even more.

 

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