Natural gas: Gazprom gains first European foothold
8 November 2011
The coming into service, on Tuesday 8 November, of the Nord Stream gas pipeline, which will link Russia’s gas fields to Germany, “marks a new stage in Gazprom’s strategy”, writes Le Monde: a “combined drive to cooperate with the Europeans and to reinforce its position as a key player in the supply of gas to the Old Continent”.
The product of an industrial partnership between the Russian gas giant and major European energy companies (E.ON, BASF, GDF Suez, Gasunie), Nord Stream is nonetheless a highly political project, remarks the daily, which points out that “its route is an act of defiance towards Poland and the three Baltic States: passing under the Baltic is a snub to four EU member states”. Also present in the Euro-Russian South Stream consortium, which will skirt around Ukraine, Gazprom “has yet to get rid of its image as an armed wing of the Russian state”, adds Le Monde.
However, as Newsweek Polska points out, Russian Prime Minister “Vladimir Putin is wrong if he thinks he can dictate European politics by means of the pipe line running under the Baltic Sea”. It will rather be the West that – thanks to the Nord Stream – will gain influence over Kremlin policies. Why? Because German as well as Russian companies have one goal in mind: “the domination of the European gas market”. Gazprom’s plans are ambitious and far-reaching, it wants to conquer French and British markets as well as deliver gas to Austria and the Balkans via the planned South Stream pipeline. This, however, will make Russia more and more “dependent on cooperation with the European business” and more inclined, though reluctantly, to comply with EU regulations.