Plans to increase the capacity of the trans-Baltic pipeline between Russia’s huge gas fields and Germany had been firing on all cylinders. Work on the €10 billion ($12.3 billion) Nord Stream 2 project is due to start this year and be completed by the end of 2019, providing large parts of Western Europe with a plentiful and secure supply of gas. Although always controversial, the private venture was viewed as a done deal. But then the German elections happened.
The result of the September vote saw both of the leading parties, Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the Social Democrats (SPD), lose ground. Despite them having thrashed out another coalition deal, the political landscape has changed, and with it, attitudes over Nord Stream 2. This has prompted a nervous response from the German and Austrian companies involved, which are working with Russian state gas giant Gazprom.
“Recently, the public discussion over the Baltic pipeline has turned bizarre,” wrote the CEOs of Wintershall, Uniper and OMV in a joint statement. “Facts are barely considered in the largely superficial, emotionally driven debates.”