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Wintershall Dea CEO remains 'confident' Nord Stream 2 gas link will be completed


German company is co-investor in 55 Bcm/year gas pipeline

US sanctions threaten completion of controversial line

Wintershall Dea would welcome privately-financed LNG terminals

  • Author
  • Stuart Elliott
  • Editor
  • Alisdair Bowles
  • Commodity
  • Natural Gas

London — Germany's Wintershall Dea -- which has helped to finance the almost-complete 55 Bcm/year Nord Stream 2 gas link from Russia to Germany -- remains "confident" that the project will be completed, CEO Mario Mehren said Nov. 23.

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A little over 150 km of Nord Stream 2 remains to be laid in Danish and German waters, but the threat of US sanctions against companies involved in laying the pipeline has seen work suspended since the end of last year.

Wintershall Dea is one of five European energy companies -- along with France's Engie, Austria 's OMV, Anglo-Dutch Shell and Germany's Uniper -- that have co-financed the project, each committing to invest Eur950 million.

"I am confident that Nord Stream 2 will be built," Mehren told reporters on a call following the release of the company's Q3 results.

"I am convinced that this piece of infrastructure is important for the supply security of Europe and for keeping our industry cost-competitive," he said.

Asked whether he saw the US position on Nord Stream 2 as being likely to change with the incoming presidency of Joe Biden, Mehren declined to comment.

He said only that, in Wintershall Dea's role as a financing party for NS2, the company is "not affected" by US sanctions.

Expanded sanctions against the project are also now under consideration, with reports that new measures could be included in a defense bill to be passed by the end of 2020.

Biden said in 2016 that Nord Stream 2 was a "fundamentally bad deal" for Europe, with his election campaign saying he would continue to oppose the project.

Nord Stream 2 is crucial to Russia's plans to scale down from 2021 utilization of the Ukrainian transit corridor for its gas supplies to Europe.

However, it remains unclear when and how the Nord Stream 2 operating company will lay the final kilometers of the pipeline.

German LNG

Also asked whether Wintershall Dea supported the idea of Germany building LNG import infrastructure, Mehren said that any investment in infrastructure would improve supply flexibility.

"Wintershall Dea has always taken the view that any infrastructure for the import of gas to Europe is welcome as long as it is financed by the private sector, as long as you have fair competition," he said.

"If there are private sector investors that want to build an LNG terminal in Germany, that is of course very welcome," he said, adding though that there was already sufficient LNG capacity available in Europe.

There are three German LNG projects under development in Germany -- Hanseatic Energy Hub's 12 Bcm/year import terminal at Stade, the RWE-backed 8 Bcm/year German LNG Terminal at Brunsbuettel and Uniper's 10 Bcm/year FSRU at Wilhelmshaven.

However, Uniper earlier this month said it was it was re-evaluating its project after market players showed lukewarm interest in booking long-term capacity at the plant.