Wednesday

20th Jun 2018

US yet to push on Nord Stream 2 sanctions

  • 'We would prefer the pipeline not be built at all,' said US deputy assistant secretary for energy diplomacy Sandra Oudkirk (Photo: Nord Stream)

The US would still like to block a planned gas pipeline between Russia and Germany but is not yet pushing for sanctions against companies that would be involved in the project.

"We oppose Nord Stream 2, we would prefer the pipeline not be built at all, US deputy assistant secretary for energy diplomacy Sandra Oudkirk said on Monday (19 March).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

But she insisted that her visit, to Brussels, then in Paris and Copenhagen, should not be seen as a "a sign sanctions will or won't happen."

Denmark passed last year a law to try to block the pipeline going through its territorial waters. But Oudkirk said that whether it would block the pipeline altogether was "a questions for Denmark".

The US Congress last summer passed the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (Caatsa), which president Donald Trump signed on 2 August, and which among other plans sanctions on companies that invest in Russian energy export projects.

"Any company working in the sector of Russian energy export pipelines faces elevated sanctions risk now that they didn't face on 1 August," Oudkirk noted.

She added however that the US did "not talk about pending sanctions announcements, publicly or privately."

Speaking to a group of journalists ahead of meetings with EU officials, Oudkirk said that Nord Stream 2 (NS2) was "geopolitically a bad idea".

She said that the US did not view Russia "as a particularly reliable supplier" and that the pipeline would "build in vulnerability" for Europe.

"It builds in another infrastructure generation of dependence upon Russia as a primary if not sole source of gas for a large number of countries," she argued.

The EU commission is also opposed to the pipeline, saying that it could be against EU rules and that it is a "risky" project.

But it also opposed to potential US sanctions and said last summer that the EU would consider retaliating if concerns over EU companies' interests were ignored.

Different approaches are "not unusual," Oudkirk said, noting that EU and US "legal systems are extremely dissimilar."

"A lot of the times we share the final goals but we follow different paths to get there," she said.

Oudkirk, who took office in January, said she was in Brussels to talk to people and hear EU positions.

While Germany is Nord Stream 2's main EU supporter, she will travel to Berlin later, "perhaps as soon as next month."

But as the former US administration official in charge of sanctions, especially on Russia, she said she already knew many of her interlocutors in the German government.

'Malicious rumour'

Oudkirk pointed at "disinformation on NS2 from Russia" and denied the "malicious rumour" according to which the US would be only opposed to the pipeline project so it can sell gas in Europe.

She argued that since the US administration under president Barack Obama authorised companies to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe, the government's role "is done".

She insisted that "US energy is sold by companies to companies on a commercial basis. The government is not involved in negotiating these deals."

She noted however that Greece's plan to sign a contract for an LNG import terminal was of interest to the US because it could open a "vertical corridor" to Central Europe.

A week after secretary of state Rex Tillerson was abruptly sacked by Trump, Oudkirk confirmed that the EU-US energy forum, which has not met since Mey 2016, was still blocked.

"We need to have our nominee in place in order to set a date," she said. "Everyone realises we've had a little bit of flux and we need to work our way through that."

Opinion

Nord Stream II aims to undermine Energy Union

The Gazprom pipeline simply does not have any commercial bearing. Rather, it undermines the functioning and effectiveness of the European Energy Union and circumvents Ukraine for gas transits - paving the way for further Russian strong-arming in the region.

Merkel: Nord Stream 2 is 'political'

Germany has for the first time acknowledged concerns on the "political" and "strategic" aspects of Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

Stakeholder

Nordic electricity market presented to global energy ministers

Energy ministers from the world's biggest economies, including the G20, were shown how co-operation works in the Nordic electricity market. This co-operation is unique by international standards and is held up as a model globally.

News in Brief

  1. PES to announce 'spitzenkandidat' names in October
  2. Macedonian parliament ratifies name deal
  3. EU to hit US with import duties from Friday
  4. Commission: New on-road CO2 test would take years
  5. Juncker orders migration 'mini-summit' on Sunday
  6. Luxembourg gave illegal state aid to energy firm
  7. Negotiators lower finger printing age of refugees to six
  8. EU to lift its internal data storage barriers

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  3. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  4. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  6. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  10. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  11. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network

Latest News

  1. How to get around the EU posted workers directive
  2. EU needs comprehensive 'sexuality education'
  3. Fate of EU refugee deal hangs in the balance
  4. Merkel, Macron in pre-summit pledge on migration, eurozone
  5. Hungary to push ahead with 'Stop Soros' law on NGOs
  6. Swedish party puts EU referendums back in fashion
  7. EU summit set to outsource asylum
  8. Dutch request to clarify Brexit Britons' rights annulled

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  2. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  4. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  7. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  9. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  10. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  11. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  12. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us