France backs down over Nordstream II gas pipe

France and Germany have struck a compromise allowing Berlin to remain the lead negotiator with Russia on the Nord Stream II gas pipeline to Europe, a proposed deal showed on Friday.

France backs down over Nordstream II gas pipe
Russian energy group Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller delivers a speech during a signing ceremony for the Nord Stream 2. Photo: ERIC PIERMONT / AFP
France had said it would support European Union oversight of new offshore energy pipelines in a move that could have crippled the undersea pipeline plans between Russia and Germany.
But the two EU countries have now agreed to ensure oversight will come from the “territory and territorial sea of the member state where the first interconnection point is located,” according to a copy of the draft obtained by AFP.
Work has already started on the pipeline from Russia under the Baltic Sea to the end-point in Griefswald, Germany. 
The draft text replaces the older wording stating the EU rules on gas imports will be applied by “the territory of the member states” and or the “territorial sea of the member states”.
The draft compromise was submitted to a meeting of the EU ambassadors discussing a revision of gas market rules for the 28-nation bloc, diplomats said.
Nord Stream 2 faces opposition from many countries in eastern and central Europe, the United States and particularly Ukraine because it risks increasing Europe's dependence on Russian natural gas.
Combined with the planned TurkStream pipeline across the Black Sea, Nord Stream 2 would mean Russia could also bypass Ukraine in providing gas to Europe, robbing Moscow's new foe of transit fees and a major strategic asset.
The draft compromise addressed the concerns saying: “We consider a (gas rules) directive in this spirit indispensable for a fruitful discussion on the future gas transit through Ukraine.” 
A French diplomatic source had told AFP on Thursday Paris was “not for or against Nord Stream 2”. 
But the source said France sought “guarantees for the security of Europe and for the security and stability of Ukraine”.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has so far insisted that the pipeline is a “purely economic project” that will ensure cheaper, more reliable gas supplies.
READ ALSO: Putin and Merkel defend Nord Stream pipeline    
Construction has already begun, involving companies such as Germany's Wintershall and Uniper, Dutch-British Shell, France's Engie and Austria's OMV.
Below is a map prepared by picture agency DPA showing the pipeline's route. 

Member comments

  1. It’s about time Nordstream 2 is completed. Europe needs the gas to transition to a greener future. Importing US LNG gas is not a great idea for several reasons. I find Macron’s position of neither for or against the Nordstream 2 project unbelievable given that Engie is one of the partners. Finally Germany is taking a real position – bravo! What remains now is to refuse compliance with forthcoming sanctions from the US.

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French lawmakers back plans to ban oil and gas production

France's lower house of parliament gave its overwhelming backing Tuesday to a ban on producing oil and gas on French territory by 2040.

French lawmakers back plans to ban oil and gas production
Total refinery of Donges in Paimboeuf, near the western French city of Saint-Nazaire. Photo: AFP
The ban is largely symbolic as France imports around 99 percent of its oil and gas, but Paris hopes the move will inspire bigger producers to follow suit.
The national assembly passed the bill by 316 votes to 69.
“France is on an unstoppable path to scrapping fossil fuels,” said Nicolas Hulot, the high-profile green activist named by President Emmanuel Macron as his environment minister in May.

France to put a stop to fossil fuel production

Photo: AFP    

No new permits will be granted to extract fossil fuels and no existing licences will be renewed beyond 2040, when all production in mainland France and its overseas territories will stop.
France extracts the equivalent of about 815,000 tonnes of oil per year — an amount produced in a few hours by Saudi Arabia.
But the centrist Macron has said he wants France to take the lead as a major world economy switching away from fossil fuels — and the nuclear industry — into renewable sources.
Above all the ban will affect companies prospecting for oil in the French territory of Guyana in South America, while also banning the extraction of shale gas by any means — its extraction by fracking was banned in 2011.
The bill includes a few exceptions to the ban, including the capturing of gas from mines, which is considered desirable for security reasons.
The extraction of fossil fuels for research purposes may also be extended beyond 2040.