Nord Stream 2 explained – what new gas pipeline means for UK and YOUR energy bills

Putin given 'vast power' over European economies says expert

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Nord Stream 2 is a £9.5bn off-shore gas pipeline that runs from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea, running alongside the existing Nord Stream pipeline. It is due for completion by the end of this year and will double the amount of gas being funnelled into Europe to 110 billion cubic metres per year.

Nord Stream 2 will become one of the longest offshore gas pipelines in the world.

The pipeline, if approved, will provide Europe with a sustainable gas supply while providing Russia with more direct access to the European gas market.

But as tensions between Russia and the west are historically high, many are sceptical of the purely economic reasoning attributed to the project.

Now the opening of Europe’s most controversial energy project has been delayed due to a lack of clearance from Germany’s energy regulator.

READ MORE: Russia denies withholding gas amid Europe energy crunch

A move by the German regulator, the Federal Network Agency, last week to ask the pipeline operator, Swiss-based Nord Stream 2 AG, for assurances it will not break competition rules suggests it could take several more months before the 1,200 km pipeline is approved.

The regulator has until January to make a decision regarding the pipeline.

It comes at a time when gas prices have reached astronomical heights due to worldwide shortages.

What does Nord Stream 2 mean for the UK?

The UK does not support Russia’s Nord Stream 2 and does not need its own long-term storage facility, UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Kwasi Kwarteng told a parliamentary committee on September 22.

He said: “We are not exposed to Russian supply as many of our EU counterparts are.”

This means the politically charged project won’t have an impact on UK gas supplies.

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And while many might be hoping the pipeline would end the gas shortage and see a halt to rising energy prices, this won’t be the case as Britain generates most of its energy itself, with Norway proving to be our second-biggest supplier. 

But it’s not only Britain opposing the construction. The USA is also against the pipeline, having previously affirmed it was a “bad deal” for European energy security.

In a joint statement, Germany and the USA expressed determination to “hold Russia to account for its aggression and malign activities by imposing costs via sanctions and other tools.”

Critics have argued the pipeline is not conducive to European climate goals and will most likely strengthen Mr Putin’s economic and political influence over the region.

Dmitry Peskov, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, said in September that Nord Stream 2 would “significantly balance price parameters for natural gas in Europe, including on the spot market.”

The comments were taken as stoking the argument that Russia has held back supplies, contributing to the surge in prices across Europe.

Ukraine has publicly accused Russia of attempting to “blackmail” Europe into approving the pipeline.

The US has now warned that “lives are at stake” should Europe be hit by a particularly cold winter, as storage levels are low across the continent.

The pipeline was scheduled for completion at the tail end of 2019.

But a combination of US sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic led to delays, as well as the arrest of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in January 2021.

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