Last week, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee moved forward with legislation to sanction the Western European energy concerns involved in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, with a German business association complaining that Washington was trying to “turn European energy policy into a plaything of the United States.”
EastMed, a mixed offshore/onshore Israeli, Cypriot and Greek natural gas pipeline designed to connect gas resources in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea to continental Europe via Greece may be the perfect US response to claims that the sanctions legislation currently making its way through Congress would deprive Europe of much-needed energy resources, Junge Welt has reported.
According to the newspaper, although the government in Athens may have changed following the July 7 elections, Greece’s foreign policy has remained on the same track, with Athens hosting a conference of energy ministers from Greece, Israel, the US and Cyprus on Wednesday to push forward with the EastMed project.
With the conference, Junge Welt argued, “the new Greek government reaffirms its rapprochement with Israel, and offers Washington the opportunity to present an alternative to the hotly contested Baltic Sea-based Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.”
Last week, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved anti-Nord Stream 2 sanction legislation, with the bill now slated to head to the Senate for a vote, and then on to the House of Representatives, before landing on President Trump’s desk for signature.
“Today, the US government cannot just ban gas imports from Russia without providing a viable alternative, at least by some future date. Imports of liquefied natural gas from the US via the planned LNG terminals in Wilhelmshaven and Brunsbuttel have been planned to serve this purpose…but it has been shown that liquefied natural gas imports by sea are more expensive than pipeline gas,” the newspaper noted.
Accordingly, EastMed, a 1,900 km pipeline with a capacity to bring some 10 billion cubic meters per year to southern Europe from offshore gas reserves in the Levantine Basin, may very well offer the ‘viable alternative’ Europe needs, “but only after 2025,” Junge Welt added.
Prior to last week’s announcement by the Senate, the Trump administration repeatedly indicated that it was considering sanctions against Nord Stream 2, a joint venture between Russia’s Gazprom and five European energy giants including Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall, Austria’s OMV, France’s Engie and the Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell.
Russia, meanwhile, has accused the US of trying to use tools of “unfair competition under various political pretexts” to try to block more competitive Russian energy supplies and to push US LNG on the Europeans instead.
Construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline will be completed later this year, providing an additional capacity of 55 billion cubic metres of Russian gas to Western Europe per year, doubling Nord Stream’s existing 55 billion cubic metre per year capacity. The pipeline will also increase Germany’s importance as an energy hub, and help provide for Berlin’s growing energy needs following the government’s decision to wean itself off of nuclear energy and coal.