Gas or Position

By Mikhail Zakharov

Russia wishes to pipe the third gas line along the bottom of Baltic Sea.

But Germany doesn’t really want it, despite energy deficit.  On the other hand both Dmitry Medvedev and Angela Merkel desire to remain heads of their states. So gas agreements once again have become the victim of big policy.

Naturally the issue of supply of Europe with gas is always a subject matter during each Russian-German negotiations. The Forum “Petersburg Dialogue” in Hannover hasn’t become an exception, and was visited by the President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev and the Federal Republic of Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Russia is extremely proud of its gas supplies to Germany. “In autumn we commission the pipeline “North Stream”, which shall enhance reliability of supplies and energy security of Europe in general”- declared Dmitry Medvedev during the Forum. “We should also consider future, strategic alliances, already established and the way they shall change”, - noted the President.

The participants of the Forum asked the Russian President whether Gazprom will be able to assure supplies of Russian gas to Europe in full scope. “There is enough gas really, don’t doubt”, - answered Medvedev accompanied by long-standing applause.

Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel also declared, that “gas scope demands of Germany grow rapidly”. “The share of renewable energy sources should be increased twice, but still definite deficit shall preserve and our goal is to enhance energy efficiency”, - noted Merkel, underlining that “the case is about not uncontrolled increase of gas scopes, but about increase of scopes for considerable values, that are able to be covered by Gazprom”.

As per evaluation of the Chancellor the demands of economy of the state after the review of the NPP program due to the disaster in Japan can grow for 20 GWt, but German government intends to compensate lack of energy  with enhancement of energy efficiency of consumption and development of production of renewable energy sources. In other words, yet Germany doesn’t want to buy more Russian gas.

By this Russia desires to sell more of it. The First Vice Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, the co-chair of the Forum “Petersburg Dialogue” Viktor Zubkov assured that Gazprom is ready to increase supplies to Germany for a third. “If we are talking about 30-35% of extra gas scope this is also not bad”, - he said. “Gazprom capacities of Russian gas supplies to Europe are not limited”, - declared Zubkov.

The declarations of the Russian President and German Chancellor naturally covier the issue about the fate of the third line of the “North Stream”. Two lines of the “North Stream” capacity of 27.5 billion cubic meters each are coordinated with German partners and are about to start. The first line is already almost ready, the construction of the second one is planned to be finished next year.

And last week the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin stated that he doesn’t exclude the construction of the third line of gas pipe.

“There will be the second line of the gas pipe “North Stream”, ”South Stream” waits its turn and as well as another one of the “North Stream”, - declared Putin in Magnitogorsk. Merkel directly hinted that Germany yet doesn’t need so much gas.

Gas issue is the most serious one within Russian-German relations today. Dependence of its supplies is the matter of worries of German society. At the background of the refusal from NPP energy (current government had positively treated nuclear power, but only before the disaster at NPP “Fukushima” in Japan) the issue of gas dependence from Russia becomes even more acute  This concern can’t be ignored by German politicians.

So demonstrative refusal of the third line of the “North Stream”, which is so desirable for the Russian Prime Minister and Gazprom, is quite logical.

Moreover that de facto Germany holds the first stage of pre-election campaign. Elections shall be held only in 2013, but these days Angela Merkel has declared that she is ready to ballot as a Chancellor for the third time. “We have plenty of projects forward. Those we have started with, should be accomplished step by step completely”, - declared the Chancellor. Meanwhile, potential candidates from social-democrats override Merkel’s ratings.

In Russia gas issue within domestic political agenda is experienced not that acutely. However, also the Russian President once again proved that he won’t leave policy. “One day we talked with Angela, that sometime we would have to chair this Forum. And we agreed that this will be not soon”, - he said. The results of the Forum, thus, are formulated quite simply: “Merkel –  the Chancellor, Medvedev – the President, third line – shall not exist”.
Translated by EuroDialogueXXI from politcom.ru