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Russia waiting 'patiently' for startup of Nord Stream 2 gas link: Kremlin

Highlights

Approval still outstanding from German regulator

German CSU leader urges prompt pipeline launch

Nord Stream 2 can help against high gas prices: Soder

Russia is waiting "patiently" to be able to launch the 55 Bcm/year Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Nov. 8, as German approval of the pipeline operator remains outstanding.

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Nord Stream 2 was completed in September, but commercial operations are yet to begin as Gazprom-owned Nord Stream 2 AG waits for regulatory clearance.

Peskov was cited by the Prime news agency as telling reporters there was no launch date yet for the pipeline. "This will take some time, and the main thing here is to wait patiently," Peskov said.

Nord Stream 2 AG applied in June for approval as an independent gas transmission network operator, but the Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA) regulator only deemed the application as complete in early September, and it has up to four months from Sept. 8 to produce a draft decision.

That means a first decision might not be published before January 2022.

Unless the BNetzA gives the green light to begin flows in its draft decision, the process could delay first gas even further as the European Commission then has two months to review it before returning it to the regulator, which then itself has two more months to make a final decision.

Further complicating the certification process, Poland's PGNiG and its German trading subsidiary PGNiG Supply & Trading (PST) have been granted permission to take part in the certification proceedings.

PGNiG and the Polish government have long been opposed to Nord Stream 2, saying it threatens European energy security and could see Poland's role as a transit country for Russian gas to Europe reduced.

Ukraine's state-owned gas company Naftogaz Ukrayiny and grid operator GTSOU have also applied to the regulator to be allowed to take part in the certification process.

CSU view

Meanwhile, the head of Germany's CSU party, Markus Soder, said Nov. 6 that a prompt startup of Nord Stream 2 would help ease sky-high European gas prices.

S&P Global Platts assessed the benchmark TTF day-ahead price at a record high of Eur116.10/MWh Oct. 5, with price volatility continuing through October and into November.

The TTF day-ahead price was assessed at Eur73.20/MWh Nov. 5, up by 408% from a year ago.

In an interview with the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ), Soder -- who also serves as Minister-President of Bavaria -- said Nord Stream 2 would be a "secure" way to ensure stable gas supplies to Germany.

"It makes sense that we open the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Baltic Sea soon," Soder said. "We cannot stand idly by as prices rise before the cold winter," he said.

Asked whether Germany should start Nord Stream 2 before the regulatory requirements are met, Soder said: "We have the exit from coal, the exit from nuclear energy, an increasing scarcity of resources, rising prices and a growing demand for electricity."

"That is why we need gas-fired power plants. Nord Stream 2 would simply be a secure basis for the stable availability of gas in Germany," he said.

Regulatory warning

PGNiG has said that putting the pipeline into operation before obtaining a final certification decision would constitute a breach of German and EU law.

The German regulator in early October also warned it could take action against Nord Stream 2 AG if it did not demonstrate compliance with regulatory requirements.

According to information available to the BNetzA, all technical requirements necessary for Nord Stream 2 to go into operation have now been fulfilled and the relevant certificates have been submitted to the authorities responsible under state law.

A BNetzA spokesperson said it could not, therefore, be ruled out that Nord Stream 2 AG would put the pipeline into operation "in the near future."

It said it reserved the right to launch supervisory or abuse proceedings against Nord Stream 2 AG in the event that doubts about its compliance with regulatory requirements were not "dispelled."