Russian President Vladimir Putin has estimated that the construction of the second line of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline could be completed within two months. Earlier, Putin announced the completion of pipe laying of the first line.
Putin, describing the current stage of work, explained that the gas pipeline sections from both sides have come closer, and now “it is necessary to lift these pipes from both sides – the one that came from the German coast and the one from the Russian coast – and weld them”.
Asked about the timing of the start of deliveries, he assured that Gazprom “is ready for them, and everything depends on the German regulator”.
At a plenary session of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, Putin argued that Russian gas supplied through Nord Stream 2 would be greener, “cleaner”, cheaper and more reliable.
He also suggested that transit through Ukraine could be increased. Supplies to the EU are assumed to grow over the next decade, so “there is a possibility to fill” Ukraine’s pipelines also in the future when the current transit contract between the countries expires; Russia wants this, he argued.
He argued that normal economic relations should be “established” and that Russia is ready to do so. He stressed that Ukraine currently pays much more for gas than, for example, Belarus, which imports gas from Russia. He expressed hope that “common sense” would prevail in making the decision.
The Russian president repeated the assessment often made by Moscow representatives that Nord Stream 2 is a “purely commercial” project. The thesis that it is about bypassing some transit countries “is inconsistent with reality” – he asserted.
He pointed out that the route from Russia to Germany along the bottom of the Baltic Sea is shorter and cheaper than through European countries. This gas transit route does not create “political risks” and makes the end customer receive cheaper raw material, because it does not pay extra for transit, Putin said.
“We have said this a hundred times, and people are being pumped into their heads with this bad propaganda that this is about some kind of politics, about bypassing someone,” he declared.
Shortly earlier, Putin said that he was “pleased to report that just today, 2.5 hours ago, the laying of pipes for the first line of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline was successfully completed”. Work on the second line is still ongoing, he added. He also reported that the gas pipeline is ready for operation on the section to the Slavianskaya compressor station. Thus, he added, “Gazprom is ready to fill Nord Stream 2 with gas”.
Nord Stream 2, the twin pipeline leading from Russia to Germany, is to transport 55 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year. The construction of the Russian-German pipeline is opposed by Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic States. Critics of Nord Stream 2 reiterate, among other things, that the project will increase Europe’s dependence on Russian gas and expand the Kremlin’s influence on European politics.