German company ‘fully committed’ to Nord Stream 2 despite fear of US sanctions

Fearing a harm in competitiveness, German company Uniper announced to withdraw from Russia's Nord Stream 2 project. [EPA-EFE/SASCHA STEINBACH]

The German company Uniper said it was “fully committed” to the planed Nord Stream 2 pipeline, despite “a very bad feeling” about US sanctions against Russia. EURACTIV Poland’s media partner “Gazeta Wyborcza” reports.

[A previous version of this article, translated from Gazeta Wyborcza, incorrectly stated that Uniper announced its withdrawal from the project. A clarifying statement by the company was added to the story below.]

“As Uniper, we cannot risk that we will actually be covered by US sanctions. Then we would be excluded from [international] payment transactions and we could not use dollars in commercial operations,” Christopher Delbrueck from the Uniper board said on Tuesday, as quoted by Dow Jones.

This led to media speculation that Uniper was withdrawing from participation in the project, something the German company later denied.

“Uniper will remain one of the financing partners of this project and we are – as before – fully committed to the project,” Uniper’s Christopher Delbrück said in a statement.

“I follow the current spiral of sanctions in world politics with a very bad feeling. I hope that everyone involved will quickly realize that it is always better to de-escalate,” Delbrück explained.

“We will continue to adhere to our contractual obligations to Nord Stream 2. We are convinced that the project makes sense in terms of energy policy for Germany and Europe and against the backdrop of declining natural gas production in Europe,” Delbrück emphasised.

Heritage of Senator McCain

According to a contract concluded last year, Uniper was to lend about €900 million to Gazprom to cover one-tenth of the construction costs of Nord Stream 2.

A year ago, almost unanimously, the US Senate passed the CAATSA law on sanctions against Russia, which allows the US President to impose sanctions for help in the Russian construction of new pipelines for the export of gas and oil. The Act also explicitly criticised the new Baltic Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany, which is prepared by Gazprom.

One of the main promoters of these regulations was US Senator John McCain, who died earlier this week and was known as a determined opponent of the expansion of Putin’s Russia. This year, US diplomats have reminded us several times of this threat. And the “The Wall Street Journal” this month wrote that Washington could introduce sanctions on Nord Stream 2 in a few weeks.

Moscow’s transatlantic wedge

Gazprom’s investment is supported by some Western European countries, mainly Germany and Austria. It is opposed by the countries of Central Europe, primarily Poland and the Baltic states, as well as Denmark, Ukraine and Moldova. The governments of these countries emphasise that Nord Stream 2 will increase Europe’s dependence on gas from Russia, and this is contrary to the EU’s energy security strategy.

During the debates in the European Parliament, opponents of the Russian gas pipeline pointed out that Moscow is using Gazprom’s plans to divide Europe.

The head of the Latvian diplomacy, Edgars Rinkeviczs, pointed out that the Nord Stream 2 project is also driving a wedge in the transatlantic community.

“Energy is not only a matter of Europe’s security but also of transatlantic relations. Nord Stream 2 may become one of the stumbling blocks for transatlantic relations,” Rinkeviczs wrote in a statement published this week by the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Such a threat was already visible at the July NATO summit, during which US President Donald Trump sharply criticised Germany for pushing Gazprom’s investment.

“Germany is totally controlled by Russia. After the construction of the new gas pipeline, over 70% gas supplies [to Germany] will come from Russia. Is that right?” Trump asked back then. “Germany is a hostage of Russia. They got rid of their coal mines, got rid of nuclear power plants and get the majority of oil and gas from Russia,” he said.

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