neljapäev, august 23, 2007

Nord Stream: The Dumbest Idea Ever

There is a fine article in the International Herald Tribune today that reveals that the boys at Gazprom are trying to think up ways to reroute the underwater pipeline from Russian-occupied Vyborg to Germany so as to piss off as few important European countries as possible, while dicking over some less important ones, like Estonia.

According to the article, there are plans to move the pipeline north of the Danish island of Bornholm because Poland and Denmark have yet to agree on a maritime border and also because "somebody" -- also known as the the two countries overseeing the Nord Stream project -- dumped a sh*tload of ordinance south of Bornholm about 60-odd years ago.

More complicated is the path through the Gulf of Finland, where the magnanimous soomlased have determined that their huge swath of the gulf is too rocky for some stinky Russian-German pipeline, and that they'd rather have it in Estonian waters, even though Estonia and Finland are allegedly brothers, and brothers don't ok gas pipelines in their sibling's backyards do they. Do they?

In all, this project may now cost about 6 billion euros to complete. Or the Germans and Russians could just admit that there are a few countries in between them, and spend a lot less money to pipe their gas through Belarus and Poland. Which would you choose and why? Personally, I might face the fact that building an undersea pipeline through the international waters of several EU countries is just not worth it.

49 kommentaari:

Simon ütles ...

A pipeline through Belarus - not the country (government) I have faith in... but that's for Russia as well. Dump that pipeline, build windmills! ;-)

space_maze ütles ...

[...] even though Estonia and Finland are allegedly brothers, and brothers don't ok gas pipelines in their sibling's backyards do they. Do they?

You don't have any siblings, do you? ;-)

And yes, this kind of stuff is the perfect example why investing into renewable engery sources = good. Even if Nabucco works, it won't offer limitless access to natural resources that aren't controlled by Russia.

Flasher T ütles ...

The upshot is that if the parties concerned want to put the pipeline in our waters, they'll have to ask nicely.

Mait ütles ...

Politics. It's not like Russia has the production capacity to fill it, anyway.

Andres Sehr ütles ...

I just can't see how Eesti could allow them to build this through their waters. It makes no sense to allow it considering Russia plans on having ships patrolling it for safety and will install monitoring devices to track ship movements above. Too risky (not too mention economically silly).

stockholm slender ütles ...

Well, in defence of Finland, geopolitical idealism got us, hmm, the Winter War... I don't know the specifics but this certainly looks like a cynical move. Still, the original European sinner here is surely Germany with their direct deals with the Kremlin over the heads of the countries in between - hmm, now that sounds actually kind of familiar. Isn't the EU supposed to act with a common front in issues like this? Or maybe it's just cucumbers and vodka where that's the case...

Wahur ütles ...

flasher, I am afraid your upshot does not work the way you expect. Paying some influential politicians would work much better, would be much cheaper and give positive side-effects (from the Russians point of view, of course).
There's already too much of that "why not?" attitude here.

Thomas ütles ...

I'm in the energy market and I know that Germany's energy demand will experience quite a rise in the future. Forget about renewable energy or windmills to feed such demand, its just not enough and not stable enough...I understand that Estonia is very sensitive in the pipeline issue and that Estonia is upset that two former occupants again decide over estonian soil...but let me be a bit provocative here, please...when it comes to involve political things here: I think Estonia missed a chance to smooth out the stormy relations with russia. Why not negotiating with Germany and Russia? Why not sitting together at the table with the big players and solve this pipeline subject with a benefit for Estonia? I believe Estonia had a chance to start over again when it comes to relation towards western europe as well as russia...It could have been a signal:"We (Estonia) are willing to help here, to bridge between EU (Germany) and Russia"...well, perhaps I am a bit naive here but still, I think that once more, in Estonia have political issues dominated reasonable, economical decisions...I am open for any criticism...

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

thomas, this is step two, step one was that Germany did a major descicion concerning the Baltics the first time after regaining independence WHITHOUT consulting them in adavance, what (Laar said) Helmut Kohl did regulary. Next. They are waiting for step two: That Germany do something that deals with their concerns,but they don't like to lsten to: "it is just about energy".

Andres ütles ...

Why not sitting together at the table with the big players and solve this pipeline subject with a benefit for Estonia?

I don't see any remarkable benefit for Estonia in this. Maybe in the short term (Tiit Vähi offered Sillamäe to benefit from the construction work), but not in the long term and certainly not strategically.

I believe Estonia had a chance to start over again when it comes to relation towards western europe as well as russia...

Estonia needs to start over with its relations concerning Western Europe? Did I miss something? Did something radical happen between the time I checked Postimees Online 30 minutes ago and now? Why should Estonia start over with its relations towards Western Europe? And about Russia, do you reckon taking a step back would calm the bear?

It could have been a signal:"We (Estonia) are willing to help here, to bridge between EU (Germany) and Russia"

This seems a bit naive, yes. Looking at how many EU members have a (justified) problem with this project, how would it be beneficial for us to go pro-Nord Stream? My first answer applies here too. As far as helping to bridge between Germany and Russia - I think Mr Schröder has done enough of that. How did the saying go again... his head is so deep inside Gazprom's ass, it's starting to look out of the throat.

Blogaddict ütles ...

Under water gas pipes must be easier to check for leaks, don't you think? Since Europe needs that gas anyway, perhaps it is even a good idea to have it built under water?

We Estonians don't like to negotiate, perhaps we should. If they build it through Estonian waters, let them pony up some cash or return Setumaa or call back the 5th column or smth. Anything. The time to talk about it with rooskies is right now. Let's just hope somebody from our side is on top of it already.

Wahur ütles ...

yes, asking Setumaa would be a good idea, in fact we cannot afford without it. At least a place far enough from the see, where the survivors can move if something goes wrong with the friggin' pipeline.

Wahur ütles ...

Oh and of course, underwater pipeline is much safer - you don't have to fear that technical personnel attempts filling their lighters direct form the pipe, or go check the leak with a burning match.
Even better would be orbital, or at least stratospheric pipeline - after all, traffic at these heights is much more sparse and easily controllable, compared to Finnish-Gulf-like sea-highway.

Giustino ütles ...

I can only deduce that there are political reasons for not building another pipeline alongside the existing ones through Poland. This is a strategic decision to isolate the surly Poles and Lithuanians.

Estonians, Finns, and Swedes are actually in a better position because they can choose to siphon gas off the pipeline at any time, thus becoming Russian gas junkies, just like the rest of the Western Europeans.

In all honestly, windmills might work for Estonia. If the Danes can get 20 percent of their energy from the things, so can Estonia. Let the Germans haggle with the Russians. Estonia should build its own energy independence.

Blogaddict ütles ...

Well, if it blows, at least there's a lot of water to put it out. Right?

Ah, they are gonna build something anyway. Sooner or later. Why not try to get the best deal possible out of it? How about having them swear that they now understand Tartu Rahu for starters. One more thing, we want our own valve near Tallinn which we will be able to shut off-turn on again as we feel. You know, a little inspirational motivational valve that helps keep everybody honest, Lukashenko style.

Also, the part the is in Estonian territorial waters has to be painted sini-must-valge.

Russians like crazy logic, give them crazy logic. Let them taste their own medicine.
We could also be the lords of absurd if we wish.

Wahur ütles ...

Tartu rahu borders and three-coloured pipeline? Its a deal. Just one condition. No valve. No. way. No need for gas addiction spreading to us.

Thomas ütles ...

"Estonia should build its own energy independence"...you see thats the point...on what could Estonia's energy independence be based on?...As far as I know, the narva plant has some serious restrictions to face at the beginning of 2016...the tallinn plant is fired with gas (that comes currently from finland, if i'm not mistaken), i know there are some hydro powerplants in estonia but their energy generation is just enough to warm up few blocks in lasnamäe...windmills? well, even if you get 20% for the energy consumption out of it, the missing 80%?...the atomic powerplant in lithuania seems to become more and more postponed, full of uneasines already in the planning stage...I mean, there is someone putting a gas line in front of your house..wouldn't you want to use it instead of going on with burning oilshale???...so, why not using the gas line...to get a link to it...to ensure energy supply...I dont think that in this gas pipeline is so much politic in it as lot of people interpret into it...first of all, its about money...a lot of money for gazprom...secondly, its for german energy security (precisely, not security but rather diversication)...well, i might be too much of a lobbyist in this matter

nipi ütles ...

Can't say this translation also has appeared somewhere, but hope you enjoy the extract from newspaper of 13th september 2011

Head of Gazprom’s private army mr Zhukov informed journalists during press-briefing, that the gas-pipe, exploded* day before yesterday by the Estonian National Movement, will be renovated ASAP and the gas delivery to Germany will continue.

Also, he told, that the main bases of Movement in Tallinn, Tartu and other larger Estonian cities are destroyed by now with air-attack and situation is under Gazprom’s control. To prevent similar situation Gazprom army has entered also Latvia and at the moment last bases are to be destroyed there also.

Mr Zhukov told, that journalists will be allowed to see the situation when it is possible. To the question about mass execution of civil population, mr Zhukov answered, that the information is hyperbolized and it is the terrorist propaganda.

EU Parliament will meet next week and will discuss the issue. German chancellor Adolf Heilmeier (of turkish origin) has already told, that he is ready to visit Estonia and Latvia to make acquaintance with the situation

New Premier minister of Estonia, mr Glinoostrov has asked help from Moscow.



* Yet there is no evidence, whether the Baltic gas pipe is damaged or the gas delivery has been stopped due to lack of gas in Russia.(editor)

Blogaddict ütles ...

This is just perfect. Russians are going to build and maintain it, all we have to do is to negotiate a sweetheart deal out of it. Something tangible. Russian promises are for naught. So it is going to be a branch with a valve, Tartu Rahu and Setumaa for good measure. I'd personally move the damn statue back too as long as to get our hands firmly on that gas.

Valve is very important, so that if they eff with us, we eff them right back. And securing Setumaa is is important. For them to get Setumaa back they'd have to fight the NATO forces then, so I think it is a high time to give Shroeder a call and request a meeting with his bosses. We have a very interesting list of talking points.

Giustino ütles ...

windmills? well, even if you get 20% for the energy consumption out of it, the missing 80%?...

20 percent is a lot of energy. Just remember that a great deal of Estonians still use puu to heat their homes during the winter, and Estonia isn't running out of puu anytime soon.

well, i might be too much of a lobbyist in this matter.

That's how all these projects are all over the world. The difference here is that it's a political deal, not an economic deal.

If it wasn't political, then why are Gerhard Schroeder and Vladimir Putin so pumped over it? Aren't they politicians? Isn't Gazprom's Dmitri Medvedev now a possible successor to Putin? Isn't German FM Frank Stenmeier out there trying to sell the pipeline to all the scared countries in the neighborhood?

Most big energy deals I am aware of were arranged through that shadowy intersection between government and big business, the Haliburtons of the world. But this is an outright political deal. My only question is, who is voting on it?

If you have a former German chancellor sitting on the board of a Russian-state-owned company, whose former chairman is in line to the throne of Russia, what kind of situation is that? You can't really say it's not a political situation, with all the politicos floating around.

karLos ütles ...

the idea of a bilateral pipeline within the modern EU context is so cynical, politically driven and so illogical, the very idea of it should have been laughed of the political agenda. selfish germany have lost any credibility they had on international or free trade and even promotion of democracy on this issue, in my opinion, by even considering such deals with russia. they are obviously pretty desperate.

estonia should do anything and everything to keep it as far away from its shoreline as possible. at least do what it can do delay construction. estonia needs to look after itself, or these guys are going to make life pretty difficult. russia won't allow any concessions to it's "biggest enemy", and i think those who don't like the idea of becoming reliant on russian gas have the right idea. after all, we know they can't be trusted. does anyone in ee want russian military patrols off the coast? isn't that a slightly scary idea considering the direction that country is headed in?

keep in mind that 20% of danish electricity production would mean what to estonia? presumably denmark produces a lot more energy than estonia does...

buy a metric crapload of windmills. poke the lats, the lits and the poles a little more over their shiny new reactor. throw some extra logs on the burner... but keep russia at arms length, at least until putin leaves office. hopefully his replacement won't have world domination on his agenda.

karLos ütles ...

additional info on electricity production, though the years differ... i wonder how many danish windmills it would take to produce ALL of estonia's electricity requirements?

43.35 billion kWh (2006) DK
9.29 billion kWh (2004) EE
(cia world factbook)

Nothing is Free ütles ...

Karlos,

You got the right idea there. I was catching the train from work one day. The ticket inspector turned out to be a russkie. I tore up my ticket in his face and walked instead. Took me an extra couple of hours, but it was totally worth it.

nipi ütles ...

wind is always good idea, but problem may be in fact, that it is not windy at all in the most coldest days when the need for electricity is highest. So we need anyways such production capacity, obviously based on fossile fuel or nuclear.
Question is, which type of enery has flexible production character to balance the peaks and drops in wind?
Until the worldwide or european balancing system (norwegian water resources?) will be built.

Doris ütles ...

ah yes, the good old "when the Russians and Germans are on friendly terms, everything will blow up" thing. But Russia has no other friends and Germany really needs the gas... so who cares about everyone else, right?

as far as I've heard, the best idea for World Energy Production (tm) is to cover Sahara with solar panels and go from there. and I believe that everyone with half a brain should start keeping an eye out on cheap mules or horses seeing as oil WILL run out within the next 50 years or so. And taking that into consideration, is the whole pipeline thing really all that useful, when the energy to build it could be used to find alternative energy sources instead?

Giustino ütles ...

I think it's just a logistically dumb idea. It's easier/cheaper to put another one through Poland. And, by the way, what exactly does Gerhard Schroeder know about the gas business?

margus ütles ...

The main incentive to build the pipe, as they have put it themselves, is to save on transit fees they give to countries like Poland, a long term project.

There is no point building a branch to Estonia as we have sufficient lines from the east already.

Asking for a valve or stripes or Setumaa is ludicrous. They consider getting the Estonian route a long-shot anyway. A valve to 'fuck' with Russia? 100% Estonia's gas supply comes from Russia. And despite the Estlink to Finland, Estonian power grid is isolated from Europe. It is not robust enough to be stable by itself and has to be connected to Russia's northwest grid. Any 'fucking' with Russia won't be very satisfying.

Andres ütles ...

Estonia's power grid could do without Russia in a normal situation. At least I've heard that. But in a situation where the demand is exceptionally big for some reason, we could get into trouble with holding the frequency or smth.

Giustino ütles ...

The main incentive to build the pipe, as they have put it themselves, is to save on transit fees they give to countries like Poland, a long term project.

I have heard it billed as a pipeline to 'Western Europe" -- hinting that the Netherlands or Luxembourg or France could suck off the end of Russia's pipe.

What would be the transit fee conditions there? Would those countries pay Germany fees?

Finally, why are there even individual transit fees for things like gas in the EU. Germany (pop. 83 mill) is a large market, but Poland (pop. 39 mill.) isn't exactly small.

In the context of the EU, the idea that one could pipe in gas to Szczecin in Poland and then have to pay a fee to send it on to Stralsund in Germany is a bit ridiculous.

nipi ütles ...

Well, maybe it is not correct to call it transit fee. Maybe it is better to call it land tax for rather dangerous land use type. As Polish government has to face the troubles when pipe blows or just leaks? There are also other restrictions besides to the gas pipe as the pipe is not deep underground facility. All this has to be compensated to landowners - but land is private. Under sea there seem to be no compensation, also while you face the consequences, only physical repair of pipe is the cost category - you can't compensate in whichever mode the environmental damage. Damage during construction and on the possible accidents is practically impossible to evaluate (the cost of...)

Thomas ütles ...

http://www.baltictimes.com/news/articles/18630/
here he comes, the russian bear...another chance to improve the situation between both countries???

Gabriel ütles ...

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Jaan ütles ...

Who allowed someone's retarded Irish younger brother to go online unsupervized?

Giustino ütles ...

Nord Stream is a Russo-German gas pipeline project designed to link Russia and the European Union via the Baltic Sea.

Thanks for the link, Thomas. Did you catch the above sentence. See, I thought that Finland and Estonia were in the EU, so one might not need an underwater pipeline to link the "EU" (AKA Germany) and Russia.

nipi ütles ...

As well Lithuania and Poland in EU, so it could be enough to go through them?

Thomas ütles ...

right, the terminology "EU" is misleading, the whole pipeline thing is just business...as written in the article, its about ensuring energy supply...the russians want to left out poland/below russ/ukraine...just to ensure gas-transport to western europe and still be able to handle/treat the countries mentioned above in a different way...but still, i think thats an unique opportunity for estonia to ensure its energy supply/ solve the energy question as well as to improve the relations to russia...true, its difficult for estonia to deal with russia with all that s*** coming out there towards estonia...but hey, maybe estonian politician have once more the longterm view as they had it with flat-tax and many other things...I know it might take a lot of effort, calmness and patience to deal with the big bear but still, its worth trying it...isn't it?...I mean, what else can be done...alyway on the verge of ugly PR leading to more violence...well, and underwater pipeline is just safer, less problems to expect once its done...

margus ütles ...

thomas,

did you have a specific point to make in your last comment?

As I see it, for Estonia, there is nothing to gain from Nord Stream. And speaking of long term, the less we have to deal with Kremlin the better off we are. The flat tax and other economic reforms were all in a sense means to escape Russia's hindering influence.

Thomas ütles ...

"And speaking of long term, the less we have to deal with Kremlin the better off we are. The flat tax and other economic reforms were all in a sense means to escape Russia's hindering influence."...and thats exactly what i dont get here...russia is estonia's biggest neighbor, could be biggest source of ressources....but estonians tend to refuse everything when it comes to russia...long term, i dont understand your question Martin..ENERGY!!!...Estonia wants to grow on, wants to develop and for that it needs ENERGY...unfortunately, Estonia cannot generate sufficient Energy for itself...and here is the chance: a gas pipeline in front of your door!!!...why dont allow the russians to put it through estonian waters and in return secure some benefit in form of energy, money or maybe a border treaty or whatsover...whatelse do you plan to do with the baltic sea, do you have any idea of use for it, a diving center, or what???...my point is just that the ball is back in the estonian field...estonia can now determine for what the russians can put the pipeline into estonia's waters...there are plenty of things/benefits which could come out at the end of such negotiations...finally, nationalism was never a good adviser, when it comes to economic decision

mina ütles ...

< < finally, nationalism was never a good adviser, when it comes to economic decision > >

And so you did find the main reason why dealing with Russia is potentially dangerous. Russia uses its economic ties as a weapon. Has used before - and is using at the moment you just look at Georgia, or Estonia and transit, Poland and meat etc. Or so called "energy wars".

nipi ütles ...

thomas, there are several questionable points in your idea.
1) the pipe would be drawn through areas where during ww2 a lot of war-related munitions (incl chemical) have been stored.
2) baltic sea is rather shallow, also we have a lot of ship-traffic in narrow zone which happens to be the same where pipe will be stored. do you imagine picture when ship is using anchor?
3) the pipeline will be crossed with at least 13 different lines - pipes or cables. Including electricity. We are not at all sure it is a safe solution.
4) and maybe the most dangerous point - Gazprom has its armed forces and works in close cooperation with russian army. they are willing to build a platform to secure the pipeline. And this platform will be located besides to Saaremaa. Russians have stated, that platform and whole pipeline will be guarded with russian armed forces. Do you imagine how happy we'll be knowing that russian navy is all the time legally standing and waiting at our gates?
5) are you sure that russia keeps their promises? we are not. The honour-chain of Estonian President before ww2 is still in russia, several times promised to return.

May accept international treaties - but just russian armed forces (navy, even legally as private army) besides - that seems too much.

Thomas ütles ...

nipi, I see your point..although your remarks 1-3 are rather of technical nature and as german engineer myself, I would say they would not be so problematic to solve...but I understand that armed russian guards on estonian soil or water would be quite difficult for estonians...got that...well, after all this comments here...I see that estonia most likely won't agree on the pipeline route...sad, a little bit because since I live here and care about estonia, it was just a glance of a chance to improve the situation with russia...but life is going on and there will come other possibilities

margus ütles ...

but I understand that armed russian guards on estonian soil or water would be quite difficult for estonians

I'm stupefied. How would YOU feel about Kremlin-controlled private militia in Estonian waters as you currently live in Estonia? What would that security force protect against anyway? Terrorist submarines? Or is it possible that the amassing of military might on the Baltic is supposed to create an atmosphere of fear and unease and to perpetrate the occasional 'incident'?

Remember Cold war era US where you had to 'duck and cover' to survive a nuclear attack? This is similar to 'o shit, relations are bad with Russia, it must be something I did!' You can't control Kremlin's opinion of Estonia because it's not dependent on our actions but rather the internal needs of Russian politics.

Don't put much hope on the 'business rationale' of Russia. When they cut oil transit to Estonia, the impact on our economy was marginal and the workers that were laid off were mostly Russians. The Estonian Russians they supposedly care about. They severed their exporting capabilities without having the sufficient ports themselves. That's like cutting your hand off before choking someone with it.

It would be great if Estonia could rely on cheap Russian energy resources but considering that Russia is not a liberal democracy this remains wishful thinking.

Nothing is Free ütles ...

margus,

Totally true. Russkies are evil and incompetent. They'll spend a dollar to see you lose a penny. Their one and only pleasure is to make life difficult for others.

Thomas ütles ...

guys...make yourself free of all of those cliche's...russians are evil, dumb, incompetent etc...get over it or do you want always to be stuck /live in the past...

Nothing is Free ütles ...

Thomas:

lulz. prove they are not.

margus ütles ...

Dear thomas,

who are the ones bringing up the past all the time? Some people in Estonia live in the European Union, some live in the Soviet Union.

Why don't you study the history of the Russian Empire and then compare it to recent developments? I'm sure you'll find fine examples of people who 'can't let it go'. And as a practical exercise you can go to Narva and speak Estonian to some street punks (hint: wear testicle protection).

All the Russians I know are decent people. Makes sense, whyever should I meet common criminals? I wouldn't mind dating a Russian girl, finding a date is difficult as it is. And the fact that not all Russians can experience the miracle of liberal democracy is horrible injustice, even for the Nashi's.

Giustino ütles ...

It would be great if Estonia could rely on cheap Russian energy resources but considering that Russia is not a liberal democracy this remains wishful thinking.

Can't the EU just develop regional energy grids rather than this mundane situation we find ourselves in now?

I mean the Swedes/Norwegians/Finns own basically everything else in Estonia. Shouldn't energy into the Estonian market be the same as energy into the Swedish market? If you cut off the gas, and the lights go out at Falck Eesti, doesn't that make the boys at Falck Danmark just as mad?

As for dumb Russians, I think it's more of a youth phenomenon. Why are young people today so dumb? I mean we've always been dumb, but I really don't recall them being so dumb as in 'April riots' dumb.

What gives?

nipi ütles ...

thomas, one more point.
we have here a lot of cables, electricity cables and internet cables under the sea, connections with finland and sweden.
also our current communication obviously moves through these to the blogger's server.

over every few years again and again some stupid shipper cuts down the cable. is this russian submarine preventing free movement of information or accidental fisherman or holiday yacht - you never know.

well, internet has good characters that it finds its way through other wires. and the broken cable will just be replaced - expensive and uncomfortable, but still result of shallow waters.
now imagine, that instead of bytes in the pipe is gas. and it is not so harmless than bytes to underwater sealife.
it takes a lot of time (and gas) before russia stops pumping.
recent news are that under water in russia the gas pipe is leaking into Lena river (was it?) and so far nothing is undertaken except shippers recommended to chose other side of riverbed.

you know, how ww2 begun in Poland? or what preceded attack to finland? not much needed. so these military outposts are just creating opportunities for not-so-nice but possible future.
from germany is nice to look and even smile at us.
but bear in mind parallel to molotov-ribbentrop treaty and somewhere earlier given recommendation - for germany and russia easiest way prevent paying for transit fees will be the joining the borders again like they did in '39. too many similarities in developments. however, maybe with mirrored images.

Nothing is Free ütles ...

Giustino:

lolz! They young people these days!

Margus:

Russkie wenches are treacherous. This guy sure had his Russophilia cured:

http://www.sakhalinexpats.com/viewtopic.php?t=82