Russia could ‘put foot on throat of Germany’ says expert
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Recently, the subject of Europe’s natural gas supply has come under the spotlight after the US threatened to halt the opening of a key Russian pipeline, in the event of a Ukraine invasion. Natural gas is one the most consumed fuel sources globally, with the European Union (EU) sourcing most of its supply from Russia. So, just how much of a stranglehold does Russia have over the provision of natural gas in Europe?
Overall, eight natural gas pipelines feed from Russia into Europe – six of which are fully operational.
These are all owned and operated by Gazprom, a Russian majority state-owned multinational energy corporation, which is both the largest publicly-listed natural gas company in the world and the biggest in Russia by revenue.
Currently, the Turkstream pipeline is in half working order, while the Nord Stream Two system has yet to be opened.
Accordingly, the list of Russia’s natural gas pipelines are as follows:
1.) Nord Stream One
Nord Stream One was completely finished in October 2012 after the European Commission had included Nord Stream as a priority project into the Trans-European Network for Energy (TEN-E) Guidelines, nearly 12 years earlier.
The pipeline runs 1,224km from Russia to Europe across the Baltic Sea.
Typically, it’s estimated to supply 55 billion cubic metres of gas per annum (BCMPA) to a host of countries in central and western Europe.
2.) Nord Stream Two
Measuring 1,225km (760 miles) in length the pipeline took five years to build and cost $11bn (£8bn).
Like it’s predecessor Nord Stream One it too runs under the Baltic sea to Germany, and was designed to double Russia’s gas exports to the country.
However, it is not yet operational as regulators said in November it does not comply with German law and consequently suspended its approval.
More than a fortnight ago, the US threatened to delay its opening altogether, after Western allies said it would target Russia’s economy if it invades Ukraine.
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As a transnational conduit, the Yamal gas pipeline runs across four countries: Russia, Belarus, Poland and Germany.
Supplying western European stocks of the fuel with 32.9 BCMPA, it runs for more than 2,000km in distance.
Construction of Yamal began in 1994 and in 2006 the pipeline officially reached its design capacity.
4.) Blue Stream
Designed to deliver Russian natural gas to Turkey across the Black Sea, Blue Stream bypasses Ukraine, Moldova, Romania and Bulgaria.
Blue Stream is thought to have significantly enhanced the reliability of gas supplies to Turkey, by sending 16 BCMPA.
The pipeline is viewed as a unique gas transmission facility, owing to specific engineering solutions which were applied during its construction.
For instance, these solutions include high-grade corrosion-resistant steel pipes with internal and external polymer coatings to cope with the different types of terrain Blue Stream travels through.
Like Blue Stream, Turkstream also progresses through the Black Sea to deliver natural gas supplies to Turkey.
In fact, it is this part or ‘string’ of the line which is operational with the second string, which will deliver gas to southern and southeastern Europe, still under construction.
Once complete, it will deliver a total of 31 BCMPA.
6.) Three gas pipelines bypassing Ukraine
Completing the list of Russian gas pipelines are the three lines that intersect Ukraine before heading into Poland, Slovakia and Moldova, respectively.
In 2021 the combined supply for all of these was estimated to be 40 BCMPA.
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