Area of Natural Gas

BERLIN/MOSCOW (Independent report) - The contracts prepared for today's visit of the Russian president to Berlin, concerning the construction of a pipeline running under the Baltic Sea, assure the strong position of German companies in the supply of natural gas to Europe. As a result, this has lead to anxiety within several neighbouring countries. Warsaw fears the return of a German-Russian alliance policy similar to that which strangled Poland many times in the last few centuries. Western European energy groups have shown astonishment over, what until now, has been participation by exclusively German companies in the pipeline project which is seen as strategic relevance in securing a natural gas supply for the whole of Europe. Receiving natural gas from Russian resources is one of 3 pillars which is favoured in a paper from the European Union to secure the European energy supply. Plans in Brussels "for an expanded European Union, their neighbours and partner states", are of the assumption that Russian supplies will simply be an addition to imports from North Africa, the Middle East and the Caspian Sea region. Germany is in the favourable situation of being able to renounce such diversifications if need be.

The Russian company Gazprom will hold a 51 percent majority stake in the planned pipeline that stretches form Vyborg in Russia to Greifswald in Germany ("Baltic Sea-pipeline"). The remaining shares will be divided equally between the BASF subsidiary Wintershall and E.on (Düsseldorf). E.on employees 70,000 people worldwide and with a turnover of 50 billion Euros, it is the largest European Energy concern. The natural gas pipeline is expected to be operational in 2010, and there are currently talks of offshoots to northern Europe and a continuation of the line in western Europe. Direct delivery to the Federal Republic, which will bypass third countries, presents a considerable advantage in the case of an energy crisis and assures the strong position of German companies with regards to natural gas supply in Europe. Interventions on prices, or gas rationing on the way to other importing countries are possible, in the same way the transit of gas can be blocked. The privileged position of the Federal Republic does not just arise from logistical advantages: gas is also diverted through the pipeline from the Yushno Russkoje field in western Siberia; The German concern Wintershall is involved in this development.[1]


German-Russian intentions are causing much anxiety in many European countries. A period of exclusive cooporation between Berlin and Moscow has conjured up memories in Warsaw, in which Polish territories were annexed 5 times over the last 250 years, including complete state liquidation three times.[2] Fear of renewed strong Polish interests are also feeding into German inspection projects ("Centre/Network against expulsion"). Political undertakings are aiming at a delegitimisation of European post-war order. Main changes to the German-Russian divergence pact are not expected from future Government coalitions in Berlin: "I fear that both the present Federal Government, as well as the next one will want to keep the pipeline", declared Donald Tusk, who is the current favourite in the Polish presidential elections, after talks with the likely future Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel.[3] Both of the countries political parties, the liberal SPD and conservative CDU advocate the current energy policy. Criticism or dissociation from the policy by any other parliamentary party in Berlin is unknown.


The Baltic Sea Pipeline is also causing disgruntlement in energy groups in western Europe. In view of the strategic relevance of securing the supply of energy to the whole of the EU, it is said to be "unusual" if only German companies took part in the natural gas project.[4] It is fact that the pipeline is marked as "a matter of priority" in the proposals presented in a European Commission paper.[5] In order to secure delivery of resources from Russia, Brussels agreed an "energy partnership" specifically with Moscow, on 30 October 2000. In 2003, the EU covered approximately 32 percent of its entire natural gas imports from Russian resources and around 22 percent of its oil imports. In comparison, volumes to Germany are approximately 40 percent for natural gas and about 33 percent for oil. Therefore Russian supplies¸ which can be expanded, strongly guaranty a German Autarky.

North Africa

The "energy partnership" with Russia is one of three instruments with which Brussels wants to secure energy requirements for Europe in the future. In addition, the EU is cooperating with the relevant southern bordering North African crude oil region and the Southeast European transit zone. The "European Middle East energy forum" focusing on the southern region was inaugurated in 1997 within the structure of the "Barcelona Process" and binds the energy resources of North Africa to the European centre. The MEDGAZ pipeline, that will transport natural gas from Algeria to Spain, is expected to be operational in 2009. Plans exist for further natural gas lines from Algeria to Italy (through Sardinia) and from Egypt to Turkey (passing through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus and Turkey).[6]

The Caspian Basin

European plans are being directed Southeastwards to natural gas resources around the Caspian Sea. "The main task will consist of facilitating the transport of resources from the Caspian Sea to Europe", a Commission Paper states; this is "of utmost importance in securing the supply of energy to the EU". The deliveries occur via Southeast European countries that should be integrated in the EU electricity and gas market, when the existing agreement ("Energy Community of South East Europe") is signed at the end of October. At the same time, Brussels does not eliminate the possibility of complications in the original resource area. The Commission paper says, the People's Republic of China has "strengthened their efforts (...) to profit from the resources of the Caspian Basin in the future".[7]

Seesaw policy

Moscow replies to German energy interests with offers of political alliance; the interests could be redirected at any time. The Federal Republic is considered a preferential partner in western Europe and should safeguard Russia from attempts of isolation and encirclement. As a consequence, there are offers of coordinated initiatives on foreign policy that are present on the agenda of the current Berlin meeting. Ahead of the meeting, the German Chancellor urged for public acknowledgement of the outstanding German role in the United Nations; President Putin hopes for political reconciliation with regards to Chechnya and the situation in the Middle East. The German-Russian contribution of the social democratic government accompanies the Foreign Ministry with a trust statement to the USA whose fears are successfully taken on by the conservative party - seesaw policy.

[1] BASF und Gazprom schließen wegweisende Vereinbarung zur europäischen Energieversorgung; Pressemitteilung der Wintershall AG 11.04.2005
[2] 1795, 1815, 1939
[3] Unternehmen kommentieren Bericht über Einigung bei Ostsee-Pipeline nicht; Süddeutsche Zeitung 27.08.2005
[4] E.ON und Wintershall bauen mit Gazprom Ostseepipeline; reuters 05.09.2005
[5], [6] Mitteilung der Kommission an das Europäische Parlament und den Rat über die Entwicklung einer Energiepolitik für die erweiterte Europäische Union, ihre Nachbarn und Partnerländer (KOM (2003) 262 endgültig); Brüssel 13.05.2003
[7] Mitteilung der Kommission an das Europäische Parlament und den Rat über die Entwicklung einer Energiepolitik für die erweiterte Europäische Union, ihre Nachbarn und Partnerländer (KOM (2003) 262 endgültig); Brüssel 13.05.2003