Nord Stream-2 is a logical goal for Russia. Bloomberg, U.S.

The Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany across the Baltic Sea has been condemned by the United States and several European countries as a Russian conspiracy to trap European buyers. This is not true

Nord Stream-2 is a logical goal for Russia. Bloomberg, U.S.

It is the latest link in a 30-year project to remove Russian oil and gas exports from transit routes through neighboring former Soviet republics. From the point of view of Russia, this is a completely logical goal. If you don’t think so, ask the Canadians about the Keystone oil pipeline (Keystone XL was blocked by the Biden administration, – Approx. InoSMI).

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia faced addiction: it turned out that the pipelines through which its oil and gas to the international market pass through countries that suddenly gained independence, and it is not a fact that they are friendly.

Even Russia had to pump oil to its main Black Sea port of Novorossiysk through Ukraine, and its main outlet to the Baltic Sea was in Latvia. Gas supplies to Western Europe went through one or more of the former Soviet republics – Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova. And then – through at least one of the former satellite states – Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria.

Moscow’s relations with all these countries were changing – and from the point of view of Russia, not for the better.

Therefore, Moscow launched a series of projects to reduce the dependence of its hydrocarbon exports on transit through former Soviet countries. New terminals for shipping oil have been built on the coast of the Baltic Sea. Upon completion of the first of them – in Primorsk – export flows through ports in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland dropped to zero. As a result, all the growing supplies of Russian oil abroad go strictly through Russian ports.

The same thing happened in the south: oil flows through the Ukrainian terminals in Odessa and nearby Yuzhny dried up by the end of 2010.

Russia has carried out a similar process with gas. Large new export pipelines were built to connect Russia directly with major consumers – first Turkey and then Germany. The Blue Stream pipeline under the Black Sea has reduced Russia’s dependence on transit through Ukraine to deliver gas to Turkey, while Nord Stream has reduced the role of Belarus and Poland in supplying Russian gas to Germany and other buyers in Western Europe.

They were soon followed by Turkish Stream and now Nord Stream-2.

However, Russia’s policy is not unique and should not be surprising.

The history of transit pipelines is not a happy one. The list of non-working pipelines includes IPSA, which once connected oil fields in southern Iraq with the Saudi East-West pipeline, as well as the Saudi Trans-Arabian pipeline, which carried oil to an export terminal on the Lebanese coast.

Others were proposed, planned and even partially built – and still ended up in the dustbin of history. The construction of the TAPI pipeline to transport gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan to India has been discussed for at least a quarter of a century, but the chances that it will be built are even less today than in 1996.

The fate of the Keystone XL pipeline, which carries Canadian oil to refineries and terminals in the United States, will serve as a warning to anyone eyeing export transit.

Even surviving and quite thriving transit pipelines do not always meet their original goals and are far from performing as intended.

Russia itself used its levers of influence as a transit country and changed the management and taxation structure of the Kazakh CPC pipeline in its favor. Turkey did the same as the owner of oil and gas pipelines from Iraq and Azerbaijan, achieving higher transit fees and tightening control.

Therefore, it is not surprising that Russia intends to end its dependence on such ties.

The Russian gas monopoly Gazprom has an agreement to continue deliveries through Ukraine, but it is valid only until 2024. Nord Stream-2 will not supplement the existing gas flows through Belarus, Poland and Ukraine, but displace them – and this will put a long-awaited end to Russia’s dependence on the former Soviet republics and satellite countries for the delivery of oil and gas to Western export markets.

Julian Lee, Bloomberg, USA


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