Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In Between the Major Powers (II) (German-Russian Energy Cooperation)

In Between the Major Powers (II)

(Own report) - Berlin is sabotaging construction of a Polish liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal in Świnoujście. According to US media reports, the German government is expressing qualms as to its ecological compatibility as a pretext to delay or even prevent the construction of the harbor, with the objective of thwarting Warsaw's diversification of its sources of natural gas, thereby insuring Poland's dependence on the German-Russian supply. Berlin is confronted with similar accusations in Lithuania, where a German-Russian company's conspicuously slow dismantling of a decommissioned nuclear power station is thwarting the construction of a new power station, facilitating Berlin's access to the country's energy sector. Following the German chancellor's trip to the Baltic region last week, it was predicted that Latvia will soon be open to German energy companies, when it plugs into the European electrical grid. While the Baltic countries are prepared to unconditionally submit their energy sectors to German companies, Poland is still putting up resistance - through cooperation with other West European and US American companies.
Liquid Gas from Qatar
The most recent Polish-German dispute is over Warsaw's plans to build a liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal in Świnoujście, close to Poland's border with Germany. The terminal is set to go into operation by mid-2014 and be capable of transferring initially approximately five billion m3 and later 7.5 billion m3 of LNG. Poland's LNG consummation this year is estimated at around 14 billion m3. Perspectively the Świnoujście terminal could account for one-third of Poland's gas needs. The terminal can, in principle, receive LNG from any liquid gas supplier, with Qatar being most often mentioned. With this project, Poland is seeking to extract itself from German-Russian control over its energy supplies. The "Baltic Pipeline" (Nord Stream), currently in construction, has devalued Poland, as a transit territory and entrusted Germany with the apportionment of Russian natural gas to the rest of Europe. In Poland, this power leverage raises historically based fears of a German-Russian pincer - as long as Poland has no alternative to Russian natural gas.[1]
German Veto
According to US media, Berlin is seeking to sabotage the construction of the Świnoujście Terminal. In the German capital, it is said that the terminal could endanger ecological interests of the Federal Republic of Germany, which is why its construction must be immediately submitted to a careful inspection. This conforms to the regulations of the so-called Espoo-Convention, a United Nations agreement signed in 1991. Countries bordering along the Nord Stream pipeline evoked the Espoo Convention to have the "Baltic Sea Pipeline" inspected for its ecological compatibility, which resulted in a clearance certificate. Berlin has vetoed Poland's rightful EU subventions for the terminal. According to Warsaw, the German objections are a pretext. The most important effect is that construction will probably not begin on schedule this month and delayed several years. This would provide Germany and Russia enough time to complete Nord Stream forcing Poland into total dependence on the pipeline. It is being reminded that the EU Energy Commissioner is Günther Oettinger from Germany.[2]